Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT) Trying to Spark a Flatlining Dow

The Dow Jones Industrial Average is relatively unchanged despite the three economic reports released this morning. As of 1:20 p.m. EST, the Dow and the S&P 500 are both down a fraction of a point.

There were three economic releases this morning.

Report Period Result Previous
Retail sales December 0.5% 0.4%
Retail sales excluding automobiles December 0.3% (0.1%)
Producer Price Index December (0.2%) (0.8%)
Core PPI December 0.1% 0.1%
Inventories November 0.3% 0.3%

Source: MarketWatch U.S. Economic Calendar.

The first report was from the Department of Commerce, which reported that U.S. retail sales rose 0.5% in December. That’s better than November’s 0.4% rise and better than analyst expectations of a 0.2% rise. Excluding automobile sales, retail sales rose just 0.3% in December, compared with a 0.1% drop in November. That’s still better than analyst expectations of 0.2% growth.

Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE:CAT)The second report was from the Department of Labor, which reported that the U.S. PPI fell 0.2% in December. That’s a smaller drop than November’s -0.8% but slightly greater than analyst expectations of -0.1%. Inflation for people who don’t eat or use energy, also known as Core PPI, rose 0.1%. That’s unchanged from last month and in line with analyst expectations. Many investors are seriously worried about inflation in the future, and while there are little signs of it now, it’s something to be wary of.

The third report was another from the Department of Commerce saying that U.S. inventories rose a seasonally adjusted 0.3% in November. That’s unchanged from October and in line with analyst expectations.

Today’s Dow leader
Moving on to individual companies, today’s Dow leader is Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE:CAT) up 0.85% on no real news. Caterpillar had a slightly volatile 2012 but finished the year down 3%. The question on many investors minds is whether Caterpillar can do better in 2013. Caterpillar is a cyclical stock whose results are largely dependent on the health of the economy. If the world economy improves, Caterpillars fortunes will improve with it. But with the coal and iron-ore industries suffering, Caterpillar’s stock will likely remain stuck in neutral for the time being.

The article 1 Stock Trying to Spark a Flatlining Dow originally appeared on Fool.com.

Dan Dzombak can be found on Twitter @DanDzombak or on his Facebook page, DanDzombak. He has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned.

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