The Dow Now: Alcoa and Caterpillar Tick Up as Stocks Stay Sluggish

By Sterling Wong  DEC 14, 2012 12:31 PM

American Express and Merck were down on the day.


MINYANVILLE ORIGINAL Stocks stayed little changed in mid-Friday trading, as robust Chinese manufacturing and US industrial production data were balanced by continued worries about fiscal cliff negotiations.
Manufacturing growth in China hit a 14-month high of 50.9, according to the HSBC December flash purchasing managers’ index. Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve said that industrial production rose 1.1% in November, surpassing the consensus estimate of a gain of 0.3%.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEXDJX:.DJI) was down 0.09% to 13,158.63 points as of 12:08 p.m. EST.

Alcoa (NYSE:AA) was up a strong 1.55% to $8.72. The company announced earlier that its Alcoa Wheel and Transportation (AWTP) business was opening a production facility in Suzhou, China, marking an expansion that creates a full wheel manufacturing, distribution, sales and service network in China. The new facility represents further growth opportunity in China for Alcoa.

Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT) also jumped 0.61% to $88.49. On Wednesday, the industrial giant said that it would be accelerating its dividend payout to avert the fiscal cliff. On Dec 31, the company will pay its fiscal 2013 first quarter dividend of $0.52 a share to shareholders of record as of Dec 24.

Cisco Systems (NASDAQ:CSCO) also advanced 0.71% to $88.99.

American Express (NYSE:AXP) was among the greatest decliners, sliding 1.42% to $56.90 amidst an overall bearish day for credit card companies. Capital One Financial (NYSE:COF) (-2.00%), Discover Financial Services (NYSE:DFS) (-1.68%), Mastercard (NYSE:MA) (-0.25%), and Visa (NYSE:V) (-0.43%) were all down on the day.
After falling some 2% yesterday, shares of Merck (NYSE:MRK) continued their descent, dipping 0.76% to $43.62. CEO Kenneth Frazier had said earlier that Medicare price controls, which Democrats have pushed as part of the solution to cutting the federal deficit, could hinder drug innovation.
Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) also retreated 0.70% to $26.92. Earlier, BMO Capital Markets initiated coverage of Microsoft at Market Perform, setting a price target of $30.

“Bottom line, we conclude that a weak PC market, a slowdown in transactional enterprise license sales, and a slow ramp of Surface tablet sales will cap the upside in Microsoft shares,” said BMO analyst Karl Keirstead. “While we’re positive on touch-enabled PCs and enterprise demand for Office-enabled Windows tablets, demand could take longer-than-expected to ramp.”

Twitter: @sterlingwong
No positions in stocks mentioned.

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