Stocks Flat After Strong Retail Report


U.S. stock markets have only moved sideways today as investors skittishly await a batch of earnings later this week. The Dow Jones Industrial Average has gained just 0.13% near the end of trading, and the S&P500 is up a minuscule 0.06%. The big economic data for the day was a fairly strong 0.5% increase in retail sales in December. Economists had expected an increase of 0.2%, but a jump of 1.6% in auto sales helped push sales higher despite a 1.6% decline in sales at gas stations. It's a good sign that consumers were willing to spend despite the fiscal cliff hanging over the holidays and the dysfunction in Washington, D.C.

Hewlett-Packardhas been today's biggest mover, losing 2.4% of its value a day after jumping on news of Dell's talk of going private. Research firm Gartner did report that HP kept the top spot in computing in 2012 with 56.5 million PCs sold -- 16% of the overall PC market. This was decent news for HP, but the stock's action shows just why investors should be leery of the stock right now. In the long term the company is in some seriously shaky businesses, and in the short term we have no idea whether the stock will pop or drop at every bit of news. There's just too much uncertainty for this Fool to jump in.

Disney and AT&T are moving in opposite directions despite reaching a distribution agreement to show multiple channels on AT&T's U-verse platform. About 70 services are covered by the agreement, and it expands U-verse's ability to distribute across multiple platforms. Investors in Disney cheered the news by bidding shares 0.9% higher, but AT&T has fallen 1% on the day.

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Travis Hoium has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Walt Disney. The Motley Fool owns shares of Walt Disney. 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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