New Economic Data Could Stall Fed Tapering

New Economic Data Could Stall Fed Tapering

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.

With the issues in the Middle East dominating the markets yesterday, today it seems investors are focusing more on what's happening here at home. As of 12:45 p.m. EDT the Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 70 points, or 0.48%, while the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq have climbed 0.57% and 0.66%, respectively. This reversal from yesterday's decline follows the release of poor housing data, which would normally send the markets lower -- but not today.

Pending home sales fell 1.3% from June to July, according to the National Association of Realtors. Many are blaming higher interest rates, which currently sit around 4.8%. On a historical basis, that number is still low, but considering that they were more than a full percentage point lower just a few months ago, that number seems high to potential buyers and may be causing them to stay out of the market for now. If the Federal Reserve believes that rising interest rates are causing a housing-recovery slowdown, it may wait a few more months before beginning to draw down its bond-buying program. And this belief may be driving the market higher today.

Stocks dragging on the Dow
Shares of IBM are modestly lower today, perhaps due to a recent report from International Data showing that while IBM is still the global leader in both revenue and market share when it comes to servers, the company is losing ground to the competition as the worldwide market shrinks. In 2012, worldwide server revenue for the quarter was $12.64 billion, and in 2013 it came in at $11.86 billion. IBM controls 27.9% of the server market, or $3.31 billion in sales for the second quarter, but that was a drop of 1.2% in market share and 10% in revenue. The big winner in the server business was Dell, which saw its market share rise from 16% to 18.8% as revenue rose 10.3% for the company.

Caterpillar shares are slipping after Joy Global recently released its quarterly earnings and informed investors that 2014 will be a difficult year. Joy is predicting that revenue will be weak in the coming months due to low demand for commodities. Joy mainly operates in the business of selling heavy equipment to mining companies, which are affected by commodity fluctuations. If mined materials are in high demand, the equipment that Joy and (to a lesser extent) Caterpillar sell will also see increasing demand, helping push sales for both companies higher. Shares of Joy Global are down 3% today, but while Caterpillar operates in the same sector as Joy, it is more diversified, therefore it will not be hit as hard by lower mining-equipment sales.

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Fool contributor Matt Thalman has no position in any stocks mentioned. Check back Monday through 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. The Motley Fool owns shares of International Business Machines. 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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