Strong Consumer Data Not Enough to Excite Markets


Strong consumer sentiment in October wasn't enough to excite markets today, and stocks are moving sideways headed into the weekend. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI) is down just 0.07% in mixed trading and the S&P 500 (INDEX: ^GSPC) is down 0.27% today.

This morning a preliminary University of Michigan-Thomson Reuters consumer sentiment gauge for October rose to 83.1 from 78.3 in September. That's the highest level since September 2007 and indicates that consumers may continue to open their wallets and push the economy forward.

Wal-Mart (NYS: WMT) is one of the Dow's best stocks today, which shouldn't be a surprise with higher consumer confidence. The stock is up around 1% on the consumer news and an upgrade by Jefferies analyst Daniel Binder, who moved the stock from a hold to buy rating. He expects the stock to reach $88 in a year based on improved same-store sales and an expansion in small-footprint stores.

Boeing (NYS: BA) is moving 1.2% higher after receiving a $2 billion contract to continue logistics support for C-17 transport planes through 2017. The company also received an order from Alaska Air for 50-737s.

After a few strong weeks, Bank of America (NYS: BAC) is the Dow's biggest loser today, falling 1.8%. Yesterday Reuters reported that one in six of the company's employees are working on troubled home loans, showing just how large the challenge is for the company. Bank of America reports earnings next week and the report should show whether the company is handling the challenge or if investors should give up on this turnaround story.

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