DOW FALLS: Here's What You Need To Know

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Photo: Joseph A. Carr, Wikimedia Commons

Stocks barely budged.  But they’re still just a handful of points from their all-time highs.First the scoreboard:

Dow: 13,982, -35.7, -0.2 per cent
S&P 500: 1,520, +0.9, +0.0 per cent
NASDAQ: 3,196, +10.3, +0.3 per cent

And now the top stories:

  • Last night, President Barack Obama delivered his State of the Union speech.  And as with previous State of the Union speeches, there were no major next-day move in markets.
  • The speech did have its moving moments and bizarre moments.  In terms of the message, Obama called for a $9 minimum wage.  This may have freaked out investors of fast-food stocks, who rely on low wages as part of their business strategies.  Stocks like McDonald’s fell today.
  • At least one expert declared that today’s January retail sales report would be the most important economic datapoint so far this year.  Indeed, this was the first period where consumer behaviour was supposed to be impacted by the recent payroll tax hike. 
  • Retail sales climbed by just 0.1 per cent in January.  However, this was right in line with expectations, allowing some people to breathe a sigh of relief as it wasn’t unexpectedly worse.  This is not to say that we’re in the clear.  “The tax hikes and latest leap in gasoline prices (which will leave households with less cash to spend on other items) could hit spending harder in February and March,” said Paul Dales of Capital Economics.
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