Dow Up Slightly on Retail Sales, Fed Remarks

Dow Up Slightly on Retail Sales, Fed Remarks

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.

After a morning slump, the Dow Jones Industrial Average battled back to finish up modestly, gaining 31 points, or 0.2%. The blue chips were buoyed by a strong retail sales report and encouraging words from the Fed. Overall retail sales grew 0.2% last month, in line with expectations, but factoring in the volatile auto segment, sales grew of 0.5%, better than projections of 0.3%. June's retail sales were also revised up from 0.4% to 0.6%. The day's other major market mover came from Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart's assuaging the market's fears over the Fed taper as he said that there was still room for improvement in the labor market. He also downplayed the effects of the coming reduction in bond buying, saying it would be a "cautious first step" whenever it began.

Hewlett-Packard led all Dow stocks today, gaining 2.1%, after garnering positive reviews form Citigroup and Morgan Stanley. Citigroup analyst Jim Silva noted "identifiable positive catalysts" such as beliefs that the PC maker will beat estimates when it reports earnings next week. Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty said that recent cost-cutting measures and increasing demand for enterprise services should also be a boon. Analysts are expecting earnings per share of $0.87 on sales of $27.3 billion when HP reports results next Wednesday.

Fellow tech component Microsoft wasn't as lucky, falling 2% as a class action lawsuit alleged that it hid poor sales of its surface RT tablet from investors, adding insult to injury as the software maker already a $900 million charge for it in its latest quarter. While the suit is unlikely to recoup much of the market value lost by the flop, it's yet another black eye for Microsoft. Earlier in the day, the Windows maker was also downgraded to hold by Stifel Nicolaus as the research group said that Windows' headwinds are "too much to ignore at current levels" and it sees a slide in average selling price for the operating system.

Finally, Boeing shares were up 1.9% as the CEO of supplier Spirit AeroSystems said production of the aircraft maker's 737 could go up by as much as 12% later in the year. Notably, Boeing shares gained after the Justice Dept. announced it was suing to stop the AMR-US Airways merger. Blocking the merger would benefit Boeing as it would sustain greater competition in the domestic airline industry and therefore greater demand for planes. The Justice Dept.'s action also indicates that it will be similarly vigilant against future mergers.

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