Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) gave back early gains by midafternoon and is down 72 points, or 0.42%, as of 2:30 p.m. EDT despite positive signs from the U.S. consumer. Consumer confidence jumped to its highest level since January 2008 in June, which bodes well for the U.S. economy and the stock markets.
"If the consumer is happy, stocks are happy and people are more comfortable taking on risk," said Jonathan Lewis, chief investment officer at Samson Capital Advisors, according to Reuters. "This is a continuation of a trend of stocks finding their footing as data continues to firm."
With that positive takeaway for investors, here are a couple of companies making headlines in the markets today.
Inside the Dow, Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT) had some positive news, finally, from its dealerships in the U.S. market. Credit Suisse surveyed Caterpillar dealers and found that "For 2014, 95% of the dealers we surveyed are exceeding their forecasts, with the year now expected to be up 8-12% y/y versus 5-7% initially forecasted."
That's certainly good news for Caterpillar investors who have been hanging on to shares of the company while it's sales have dropped amid weakness in markets abroad. In fact, as emphasized by Credit Suisse's findings, North America was really the only bright spot in Caterpillar's recent sales data.
While Caterpillar dealers in the U.S. are exceeding forecasts, that doesn't outweigh the sharp decline in overall sales. Looking at Caterpillar's biggest problem -- its resource industries segment, which is heavily tied to mining -- North America recorded a 7% gain in the three months ending in May, while the next-best regional result was a decline of 47%. Ultimately, despite Caterpillar's improvements in North America, it's a long way from a rebound overseas. That said, Caterpillar investors have a silver lining.
Meanwhile, outside the Dow, Tesla Motors (NASDAQ:TSLA) has received yet another vote of confidence from a highly respected automotive analyst, Morgan Stanley's Adam Jonas. In a recent report to investors, according to the Los Angeles Times, Jonas had this to say.
Not even two years after the delivery of the first Model S, Tesla Motors has transformed from fledgling start-up to arguably the most important car company in the world. We are not joking. Tesla is also emerging as an emblematic force in America's effort to foster high tech manufacturing job growth.
It is certainly an exciting time for the young electric automaker as five states attempt to lure Tesla's proposed $5 billion "gigafactory" battery plant and the automaker begins to send vehicles into China, which could become the world's largest electric-vehicle market in a few years, according to BMW.
Adam Jonas had already put his money where his mouth is prior to his recent note to investors. Earlier this year, Jonas raised his price target for Tesla shares from $153 to $320. As Tesla's share price has jumped 135% over the last 12 months, there's little grey area with this stock: You're either paying a steep premium for Tesla's potential to disrupt the automotive industry over the next few decades, or you're unwilling to jump on the bandwagon because you think Tesla's valuation is years ahead of its current standing. Either way, Tesla remains one of the most exciting stories on Wall Street and will certainly continue to be such.