The National Association of Realtors released data this morning indicating that December's existing-home sales fell by 1% from November. While the month-over-month number decreased, December of 2012 beat December of 2011 by 12.8%. Fool John Maxfield believes this year-over-year increase was a result of three things: record-low interest rates, a lower supply of homes on the market, and cash-rich investors buying up homes with the hopes of turning a profit later down the road.
At this time is doesn't seem investors are too concerned about the slight drop in housing sales. As of 12:50 p.m. EST, the Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 30 points, or 0.22%, to 13,680. Eleven of the index's 30 components are trading lower so far, and three of those losers are The Boeing Company (NYSE:BA) , Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) , and Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE:CAT).
So why are they down? Shares of Boeing are again sinking today because of the company's troubled new 787 Dreamliner aircraft. Since the Federal Aviation Administration grounded all 787s in the U.S. last week, the company has been scrambling to find the problem that has now caused two separate incidents involving the plane's battery system. On Sunday regulators ruled out one simple explanation for the battery issues, which raises more concerns among investors over how long this delay will last. Currently there are only 50 787s in the hands of customers, but hundreds more have been ordered, and the possibility of canceled contracts rises every day this nightmare drags on. Shares of Boeing are down 1.3% today.
This morning Johnson & Johnson announced quarterly earnings that missed analysts' estimates. Johnson & Johnson was expected to earn $1.17 per share but only made $0.91. The company did report a much better quarterly report than it did this time last year, but that was largely due to some one-time write-offs the company took last year. Shares of Johnson & Johnson are down 0.65%.
Finally, shares of Caterpillar are down 0.8% after the company announced it had uncovered an accounting scandal at its China ERA Mining Machinery unit. Caterpillar acquired this manufacturer last year, and in an internal investigation, Caterpillar found that several managers had engaged in deliberate accounting irregularities for a number of years prior to the acquisition. It has also been announced that Caterpillar will take a $580 million charge for the company, which Caterpillar had bought for $800 million.