There were no major catalysts pushing stocks down today as the momentum that carried equities to record levels over the past few days simply seemed to run out of fuel. There was one promising piece of economic data out today however, coming from the Labor Department, which said initial unemployment claims totaled just 323,000, hitting a five-year low for the second week in a row. Continuing jobless claims also came in below estimates, falling to 3.005 million. Both reports indicate that the job market is continuing to improve despite fears of the contrary.
In other economic news, the dollar rose to a four-year high against the yen. This was bad news for companies with strong sales in the Land of the Rising Sun, including Monster Beverage Corp (NASDAQ:MNST), which was down 5.2% on a poor earnings repor. However, it was a boon for Japanese exporters, such as automakers Honda Motor Co Ltd (ADR) (NYSE:HMC) and Toyota Motor Corporation (ADR) (NYSE:TM).
On the Dow today, JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM) was the biggest loser, falling 1.5% after getting sued by the State of California, in news released after hours. The state's attorney general said the banking giant used faulty practices in debt collection lawsuits filed between 2008 and 2011. The lawsuit comes amid a tempest of negative attention on JPMorgan, as several institutional shareholders have called for CEO Jamie Dimon to step down from his chairmanship post on the board of directors.
AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) shares were also off 1.3% after launching a new prepaid wireless option through its Aio Wireless subsidiary, hoping to compete with Sprint Nextel Corporation (NYSE:S) and T-Mobile, which offer similar payment plans. Hedge-fund manager Jonathan Jacobson also called out AT&T at an investor conference this morning, saying it may not be able to sustain the cash flow to support its high-yielding dividend, as "wireline is a melting ice cube and wireless is becoming more competitive."