This month’s see-saw in the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEXDJX:.DJI) has turned triple-digit movements into an everyday occasion. We’re on pace for another such day today, with a report from China saying the government will push to stabilize lending rates easing Wall Street’s fears of a credit crunch in the world’s second-largest economy. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEXDJX:.DJI)’s up 149 points as of 2:20 p.m. EDT, and nearly every stock on the blue-chip index is in the green. Forget all of last week’s fuss over quantitative easing; Wall Street has moved on. Let’s look into the stories you need to know about today.
Good news out of China usually means good things for Alcoa Inc (NYSE:AA), but that isn’t the case today. The aluminum producer’s shares have fallen 2.2% — the worst performance on the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEXDJX:.DJI) today — as a glut of oversupply and lukewarm demand continues to slam the materials sector. Even worse, one of Alcoa Inc (NYSE:AA)’s only promising markets, the U.S., added to its woes today: American GDP growth for the first quarter was revised down to 1.8% from a previous estimate of 2.4%. The disappointing GDP number owes primarily to reduced consumer spending, but it’s still an unneeded hindrance for Alcoa Inc (NYSE:AA), considering the firm’s reliance on healthy economies for its own growth.
Alcoa’s stock has now surpassed Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE:CAT) as the worst-performing Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEXDJX:.DJI) stock of the year, with shares down more than 8% year to date. Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE:CAT) may be facing the same problem of weak demand and a slowing Chinese market, but at least it has maintained its position as the global leader in its industry, which will pay off when slumping economies such as Europe eventually dig out of their current recessions. Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE:CAT) shares are down 0.7% today, but this stock’s long-term future looks stable, even if its short-term outlook remains rocky.
Tech leader Cisco Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ:CSCO) is dealing with its own problems in China: Earlier this week, several Chinese state-run media outlets attacked the company as a security threat. Cisco Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ:CSCO) claims it had no part in the U.S. surveillance program that has cooled relations between the two countries over the past week, but it’s not unthinkable that China should move to rely more on domestic tech producers in order to safeguard its online security. It hasn’t yet affected Cisco Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ:CSCO)’s shares, which are up 1.2% today, but it’s an issue for shareholders to watch in the long run.