Consumer Confidence Drops, and the Markets Follow


Earlier this morning the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan preliminary Consumer Sentiment Index for June was released. The index declined from 84.5 in May to 82.7. Analysts were expecting the index to remain unchanged, so the report came as a shock to most market participants.

The lower-than-expected numbers didn't give investors the confidence they needed to continue yesterday's bullish rally, and as of 12:50 p.m. EDT today the Dow Jones Industrial Average has lost 66 points, or 0.44%. Meanwhile, the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq have each fallen about 0.3%. When consumers' confidence is high, they are more inclined to spend money, so in our consumer-driven economy our economic outlook improves with consumer confidence.

A few Dow losers
Despite announcing a 15% increase to its dividend yesterday, Caterpillar is down 1.6%. There is no news directly pertaining to the company today, so it's likely just heading lower as a result of the overall bearish feelings on Wall Street today. But that doesn't mean Caterpillar is a perfectly healthy company with a bright future. There's a reason that it's the worst-performing Dow component in 2013 -- shares are down 6.1% year to date -- and that it was recently highlighted on "Ask a Fool."

Shares of DuPont are down 2.5% today after the company released an updated earnings forecast yesterday. Management is now forecasting to meet the low end of its previously announced 2013 forecast of $3.85 to $4.05 per share. While we never want to see a lowering of a forecast, this should come as no surprise to many investors, as the average analyst estimate was $3.89 per share even prior to yesterday's announcement. The stock is also feeling downward pressure today due to a downgrade by Bank of America/Merrill Lynch from "buy" to "neutral."

Another Dow component losing out following an analyst downgrade is American Express . Shares of the credit card company are currently down 2.4% after Barclays lowered the stock's rating from "Overweight" to "Equal Weight." Yet while Barclays lowered AmEx's rating, it also increased its target price from $72 per share to $82 per share. Year to date, shares are up 28.65%. Furthermore, with a current P/E of 18.69, the stock isn't cheap at today's price, and unless the company can continue to grow revenue and earnings, we will likely see many more days like today.

More foolish insight
Caterpillar is the market share leader in an industry in which size matters, and its quality products, extensive service network, and unparalleled brand strength combine to give it solid competitive advantages. Read all about Caterpillar's strengths and weaknesses in The Motley Fool's brand-new report. Just click here to access it now.

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Fool contributor Matt Thalman has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends American Express. Check back Monday thru Friday as Matt explains what caused the Dow's winners and losers of the day, and every Saturday for a weekly recap. Follow Matt on Twitter @mthalman5513. 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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