After yesterday's boost in manufacturing, all domestic observers of the economy are eying Friday's unemployment data and, to a lesser extent, the first presidential debate tomorrow. The debate may seem like posturing, but it has moved polls in the past. As for unemployment, economists expect it to stay flat at 8.1%, but a decrease could help confirm that the growth in manufacturing isn't just monthly noise.
With not much at home to entertain traders today, thoughts drifted toward Europe, where rumors are increasing that Spain will engage in a similar "non-default default" like Greece. Furthermore, concerns over earnings season are increasing, but it's too early to say that's the case. In fact, Dow component IBM gained 1.5% and hit an all-time high, as investors are excited about Big Blue's IT consulting business going into earnings, partially because Accenture increased its 2013 guidance last week.
Given all that, we ended up with a mixed day in the markets. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI) finished the day down 33 points, or 0.2%, clearly underperforming, given that the two other major indexes posted small gains. However, the S&P 500 only made it back into the green at the end of the session with a 0.1% increase, while the Nasdaq followed a similar trajectory to a 0.2% increase.
The eurozone fallout is far-reaching, but McDonald's (NYSE: MCD) , which gets 40% of revenue from the region, got hit with a Dow-component-worst 1.2% decline. Of course, Spanish worries weren't the only perpetrator -- Janney Capital served as an accomplice, downgrading the fast-food purveyor to neutral, citing concerning same-store-sales growth. Shares are still well above where they were two years ago, and the company saw a change in leadership, but the new CEO is well regarded, and investors shouldn't discount McDonald's and its status as an inexpensive eatery heading into potential economic turmoil.
For instance, it may be worse to be on the other end of the fast-food spectrum -- at least according to hedge-fund manager David Einhorn. Coming off a successful Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (Nasdaq: GMCR) short call, Einhorn is at it again, signaling out Chipotle (NYSE: CMG) . He thinks the burrito slinger is at risk of not being able to increase prices any further, a substantial problem in the face of rising food and health-care costs, along with increased competition in the form of Taco Bell's Cantina menu. The Yum! Brands (NYSE: YUM) subsidiary has Chipotle in its sights, and according to Einhorn's surveys, enough customers prefer Taco Bell's offerings that it could meaningfully upset Chipotle's growth profile. Whether that is the case remains to be seen, but investors should take heed of Einhorn's calls, as shares of Chipotle were down more than 4% today.
Green Mountain shares have taken a beating as well, down more than 72%, and Einhorn's continued negativity casts a pall over the company's future. Download our new premium Green Mountain report to get a better grasp of the key opportunities and risks facing the stock -- plus it comes with a full year of updates. Get your copy today by clicking here.