Mixed Economic Data Has Markets Moving Higher

This morning investors were hit with three economic data points: weekly jobless claims, first-quarter GDP, and the National Association of Realtors' pending-home-sales number. Weekly jobless claims came in at 354,000, higher than the 340,000 most economists were expecting and 10,000 claims higher than last week's reading. First-quarter GDP was expected to hit 2.5%, but the Department of Commerce pegged it at 2.4% for the first three months of the year. Lastly, the pending-homes-sale number rose 0.3% during April. This is a great sign, as we know prices and inventory are both declining, so if sales continue to rise, new-home construction will eventually pick up, and job growth should then soon follow. 

Investors seem to like this news today: As of 12:50 a.m. EDT the Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 63, points or 0.41%. The S&P 500 has risen 0.48%, while the Nasdaq is the best performer, rising 0.72%. But even on days when the market in general is moving higher, a number of losers can be found.

Today's Dow losers
Shares of Coca-Cola are down 1.2% this afternoon after discouraging reports were released from Venezuela yesterday. Today marks the 10th day workers at the largest Coke bottler in Latin America have been on strike. As of yesterday, Coke's management claimed that the company had lost 15% of May's sales due to the strike. And yesterday the striking workers soldered the gates of the plant shut so as to not allow anyone to enter or leave the facility. In the big picture, a 15% loss in sales for one area of Coke's empire is not too damaging to total profit, but this event may end up casting a poor image of the company throughout the world. And Coke's image and brand recognition have made the company what it is today. 


Hewlett-Packard is trading lower by 0.45% today following reports that a senior executive from Silver Lake Partners left the firm and has joined HP's team. Todd Morgenfeld is believed to have inside knowledge of the possible Silver Lake buyout offer for Dell , Hewlett-Packard's rival. It is believed that Morgenfeld had intimate details of the negotiations, was present during the due-diligence period, and has knowledge of what Silver Lake's strategic plan for Dell was to be after making the purchase. This should all bode well for HP and its shareholders. 

Lastly, shares of Alcoa are down 0.7% after the company received a downgrade yesterday evening. The downgrade didn't apply to the stock, which would have been better for Alcoa in the long run; it came as a downgrade to the company's credit rating. Moody's has cut Alcoa to junk levels with a new rating of "Ba1" from a prior rating of "Baa3." 

Materials industries are traditionally known for their high barriers to entry, and the aluminum industry is no exception. Controlling about 15% of global production in this highly consolidated industry, Alcoa is in prime position to take advantage of growth that some expect will lead to total industry revenue approaching $160 billion by 2017. Based on this prospect and several other company-specific factors, Alcoa is certainly worth a closer look. For a Foolish investment perspective on this global giant, simply click here now to get started.

The article Mixed Economic Data Has Markets Moving Higher originally appeared on Fool.com.

Fool contributor Matt Thalman has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Coca-Cola. 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. 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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