Europe Dampens the Dow's Gains

The markets are all green again today as the Dow Jones Industrial Average continues its push into record highs. Despite poor economic data from across the Atlantic and another gloomy day for Hewlett-Packard's stock, the Dow has managed to post gains of 14 points as of 2:25 p.m. EDT. Most of the blue-chip index is headed higher, although the industrial sector is holding the markets back. Let's check out the big stories and movers you need to know about.

Europe drops the industrial sector
Europe kicked off the day in a bad way: The continent's GDP numbers continued their fall and extended the region's recession. France, one of Europe's top economies, officially fell into recession today after its economy contracted 0.2%. Germany managed to eke out 0.1% economic growth for the quarter, but the minute gain from the eurozone's top economy doesn't bode well for Europe as a whole. Confidence is growing that the European Central Bank will lower interest rates again in an attempt to stave off further contraction, but Europe's still on shaky footing.

That hasn't helped the industrial sector one bit, and the economically reliant industry has fallen on the day. Caterpillar shares are down 1% so far today, while Alcoa has lost 1.1%. All is not lost for Caterpillar, as the company is still the leader in the downbeat manufacturing industry. The company's heavy focus on China and the Pacific recently will help Caterpillar withstand the worst of Europe's drain on industrial giants. Don't expect Caterpillar to turn its European operations around quickly, however -- particularly in the mining industry, which has particularly hurt this company's fortunes.

The same can't be said for Alcoa, which continues to be mired in low aluminum prices and sluggish demand. With supply still high around the world and Chinese firms expected to increase production, the metals industry as a whole is facing a tough road ahead. Until infrastructure picks back up -- something that won't happen in Europe anytime soon and has been set back further by China's slowdown -- expect downbeat expectations for Alcoa and its rivals.

Nobody's having so bad a day as Hewlett-Packard , however. The Dow's king of volatility has slid 3.2% today, even after the company announced its new SlateBook x2, an Android tablet that can double as an Android-powered laptop. It's an innovative twist for HP, which is looking to follow up on its Slate 7 tablet with the SlateBook, as well as a sign that the company's genuinely pushing to be competitive in the mobile industry as its PC sales nosedive. Still, HP has a long way to go before its turnaround will look enticing.

Regardless of these losers, most stocks are in the green today. Procter & Gamble ranks among the Dow's leaders, with shares gaining 1.6%. On Tuesday, P&G CFO Jon Moeller  hinted at new products in the firm's pipeline that could make several of its existing product categories obsolete, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal. Moeller expects 3% organic sales growth for the company's full year, and new product offerings would be a good way to spice up P&G's lackluster revenue. While growth has come slowly, P&G's size and stability make this stock especially inviting for income investors. Slow growth won't hurt P&G's secure control of the consumer goods market.

Is there value in HP's turnaround?
The massive wave of mobile computing has done much to unseat the major players in the PC market, including venerable technology names like Hewlett-Packard. However, HP is rapidly shifting its strategy under the leadership of CEO Meg Whitman. But does this make HP one of the least-appreciated turnaround stories on the market, or is this a minor detour on its road to irrelevance? The Motley Fool's technology analyst details exactly what investors need to know about HP in our new premium research report. Just click here now to get your copy today.

The article Europe Dampens the Dow's Gains originally appeared on

Fool contributor Dan Carroll has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Procter & Gamble. 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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