A week full of economic data sent the markets lower. Monday’s Institute for Supply Management report started things off on the negative foot, and then factory orders came on Tuesday, which showed signs of both strength and weakness in the economy. Then on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, investors were hit by one poor jobs report after another. And after ending last week on a high note, with the S&P 500 hitting a new record high, investors ended this week thinking the economy looks rather weak in its current stage.
And with that, the Dow Jones Industrial Average 2 Minute (INDEXDJX:.DJI) ended the week down 13 points, or 0.09%, and now sits at 14,578. The S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) performed slightly worse, as it lost 15 points, or 1.01%, and the NASDAQ-100 (INDEXNASDAQ:NDX) had its worst week of 2013, losing 63 points, or 1.94%.
Although the Dow Jones Industrial Average 2 Minute (INDEXDJX:.DJI) lost during the week, its components were split down the middle — half moved higher, while half headed lower.
Before we hit the Dow Jones Industrial Average 2 Minute (INDEXDJX:.DJI) losers, let’s look at the index’s big winner of the week. After rising 5.05% two weeks ago, shares of UnitedHealth Group Inc. (NYSE:UNH) rose another 8.5% this past week. The main reason for the increase was the announcement on Monday that reversed the previously planned 2.2% cut to the Medicare Advantage payout and instead raised it by 3.3%. This turnaround should help not only UnitedHealth Group Inc. (NYSE:UNH) but also all the insurance providers.
The big losers
Shares of Bank of America Corp (NYSE:BAC) ended the week lower by 1.72%. The main decline came on Wednesday after the Mortgage Bankers Association released a report indicating a 4% decline in home loan applications in last week. The association contributed poor refinancing numbers as the cause for the overall decline.
While most would ultimately blame the housing market and high foreclosure rates as the cause of the most recent recession, the big banks need a strong mortgage market to turn a profit. We’ve seen the banks slowly move away from the riskier investments and into more stable ones over the past few years, and home mortgages are a large part of the so-called safer side of banking.
Shares of International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE:IBM) ended the week lower by 1.82% after an independent study indicated that the company may no longer be the best in chips and servers, saying that Oracle Corporation (NASDAQ:ORCL)‘s new chips and servers outperformed International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE:IBM)’s top-line products. International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE:IBM) has long been the king of the hill, and as the competition heats up, the company will have to step up its game if it wants to remain at the top.