Stocks Struggle Ahead of Earnings Season Kickoff


The relief over the fiscal cliff has worn off, December's unemployment figures are out, and we're almost in the all-important earnings season. Alcoa kicks us off tomorrow by telling investors just how badly fear affected construction and manufacturing activity worldwide in the quarter. But as await earnings, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has slipped 0.3% today, while the S&P 500 is down 0.27%.

Disney is by far the biggest loser on the Dow today, falling 2.2%. Reuters reported this morning that Disney is looking for ways to cut costs and may even consider layoffs. It's a bit curious to hear about layoffs now, as Disney reported a record quarter in November and just spent $4 billion to buy Lucasfilm. CEO Bob Iger has done a masterful job with the company in recent years, and I expect that this is a normal business review at a multinational company with operations in markets that are constantly changing.

Boeing fell 2% today in perhaps the most concerning move on the Dow. A 787 Dreamliner owned by Japan Airlines had a fire onboard the aircraft at Boston's Logan International Airport today. Passengers and crew had left the plane, so there weren't any injuries, but an incedent on this all-important aircraft is worrying to investors. Early reports say the fire started where most of the plane's electrical components are, which could make this just another electrical problem among several for Boeing in recent months.

To add to Boeing's problems, Hawaiian Airlines said it would spend $2.8 billion on 16 Airbus jets to be delivered between 2017 and 2020. These problems by themselves don't constitute a deal-breaker for Boeing, but investors are surely concerned about the company today.

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