Markets Teetering, Looking for a 4-Day Rally

The risks are many: Europe is at the brink of failure with every passing week, a huge fiscal cliff stares the U.S. in the face, and consumer spending is tepid to say the least. However, the markets continue to move forward, looking to extend their winning streak to four days.

Though the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 were flat approaching the final hour of trading, one of my favorite indicators of global consumer health pointed lower. Worse yet, in addition to not boding well for the macro picture, it made me really hungry. The Fed has its Beige Book; I have my Golden Arches.

McDonald's, typically known as a defensive consumer stock, posted negative comp-store sales in every one of its reported geographic regions. Most notably, the segment that includes key growth economies in Asia, the Middle East, and Africa posted the worst decline of them all. Those fries may emit the most pleasant aroma known to man, but this month's sales results stunk up the joint, and it's leading all Dow components lower.

Among Dow victors today is embattled tech company Hewlett-Packard, up more than 2%. This is a company that could use a few positive headlines, a treat it received after announcing a management shakeup in its enterprise division as well as a small boost to quarterly earnings guidance. Investors aren't going crazy on the news, but it's a much-needed step in the right direction for HP.

Speaking of McDonald's, are you part of the 99%? If so, you're not showing it by eating more Mickey D's! After all, McDonald's is as Joe-the-Plumber as it gets, but the company's July comp-store sales fell 0.1% in the U.S. Luckily, it's not the only easy-to-understand stock out there. In our new free report, we highlight three less-than-luxurious stocks that the 1% may be overlooking. Just click here to read it now.

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Brenton Flynn has no positions in the stocks mentioned above. Austin Smith owns shares of McDonald's. The Motley Fool owns shares of McDonald's, Dean Foods, and Motley Fool newsletter services recommend McDonald's and Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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