Dow Finishes Flat With Retail Sales on Deck

Dow Finishes Flat With Retail Sales on Deck

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over daily movements, we do like to keep an eye on market changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

Coming off its worst week since June, the Dow Jones Industrial Average essentially held the line today, falling just 6 points, or 0.04%. Volume was light again as is the norm for a Monday in August, and there were no major economic reports released. The Treasury reported a $98 billion deficit for July, slightly more than expectations of $96 billion, though the government said revenues had increased thanks to higher tax rates and an improving economy. With two months left in the federal government's fiscal year, the deficit has totaled $607 billion thus far, more than a third better than a year ago when it was at $947 billion.

On the Dow today, Caterpillar led all components, gaining 2.1%. Though there was no company-specific news out, several trade reports from China last week indicated that the world's No. 2 economy may be waking from its earlier slowdown as imports jumped 10% in July. Caterpillar is highly dependent on construction in China as it sells not only construction equipment but also mining machines that unearth the metal needed for the building. Separately, the manufacturer began hiring for a plant in Georgia that will employ 1,400 workers, a reminder that Caterpillar continues to expand and invest in the future despite currently lagging sales.

Disney , meanwhile, continued its slide from last week, falling 1.2%. Like Caterpillar, there was no news affecting the entertainment giant, but investors still seem to be down on the stock after a revenue miss and a $190 million writedown for The Lone Ranger reported in its earnings report last week. Disney's ESPN may also be facing a credible threat for the first time in FoxSports One, which is set to roll out later this month.

Finally, Apple shares were up 2.8% on news that the tech giant will release a new version of the iPhone next month, keeping up a recent pattern of September updates of its trademark smartphone. Apple has scheduled a special event for September 10, during which analysts expect the iPhone 5S to be unveiled along with a cheaper version called the iPhone 5C, which will help Apple penetrate China and emerging markets. Investors need the new iPhone to move the needle as Apple, whose stock price is still down more than 30% from its high a year ago, is starting to seem like a has-been to some. It once dominated the smartphone market, but with the rise of Android, its share has dwindled to just 13%.

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