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It appears the stock market is headed for its fifth straight negative day as the markets opened lower on continued global concerns.
Any optimistic sentiments from Europe's recent summit and bailouts have passed, as Germany still is not committed to measures in the agreements.
After Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy announced surprisingly harsher austerity plans for Spain, there were riots in Madrid where more than 70 people were injured.
The stock market wasn't quite as violent, but after the U.S. Federal Reserve's minutes revealed no signs of QE3, the markets took a hit before finishing the day slightly higher. Today the market is still reeling as all three major indexes opened well in the red.
Even news of the lowest number of initial unemployment claims filed since March of 2008 could not lift the market. The Labor Department announced that initial claims seasonally adjusted came in at 350,000, down 26,000 from the previous week. Analysts had expected on average between 355,000 to 395,000 claims to be filed.
Those numbers may not be reliable, as many economists say the claims are lower due to automakers choosing to keep their plants open throughout the summer.
Typically many auto plants close for two weeks in the summer and lay off workers temporarily as the plants are prepped for new models. With higher demand this year many plants have remained open through July.
"It seems like the Labor Department is pretty adamant that this is more of a wonky seasonal adjustment than something we need to put too much stock in," Michael Hanson, U.S. economist at Bank of America-Merrill Lynch told Reuters. "The underlying trend in claims is probably still in the 370,000 range."
Those numbers are also low due to the fact that they are gathered from the holiday-shortened 4th of July week.
Even with the markets' slide today, there are still winners to be found. Here are five of the best performing stocks today:
Merck and Co. Inc. (NYSE: MRK) announced it received favorable results for its latest experimental osteoporosis drug, odancatib, and ended trials early because it worked so well. The drug is supposed to prevent bone fractures in women with osteoporosis and has been in testing since 2007.
Merck stock is up almost 4.5% as of noon.
Texas Industries Inc. (NSYE: TXI) reported better-than-expected fourth quarter results after Wednesday's closing bell. The Dallas-based company reported net income of $60 million, or $2.15 per share, for the quarter which ended May 31 — much better than the $0.33 loss in the same quarter a year ago.
Analysts had expected Texas Industries to report a loss of $0.34 a share. The company cited strong construction and higher prices in Texas as a main factor in reporting its first positive quarter profit-wise in two and a half years.
TXI is up more than 8.4% in early trading.
Proctor & Gamble (NYSE: PG) stock spiked on the news that hedge fund manager Bill Ackman's Pershing Square Capital Management has apparently taken a stake in the consumer goods giant.
Pershing Square was granted permission by the FTC to acquire the stake and may be interested in pressuring PG to make changes. Ackman is known as an activist investor with a history of buying stakes in large companies and pushing — sometimes aggressively — for change, most notably with Target and JCPenney.
PG is up more than 4% as of noon.
Fasternal Company (Nasdaq: FAST) reported its second quarter earnings for fiscal 2012 and beat expectations. Fasternal reported a second quarter profit of $0.38 a share, compared to $0.32 per share in the year-earlier quarter.
Analysts had expected, on average, income of $0.37 a share this quarter. Fastenal is a retailer of industrial and construction supplies in the U.S. and internationally.
Fasternal stock is up over 6.5% as of noon.
Jewett-Cameron Trading Company Inc. (Nasdaq: JCTCF) is today's biggest winner after the Oregon-based holding company announced earnings per share of $0.59 for its third quarter, compared to income of $0.30 in the year-ago quarter.
Jewett-Cameron Trading Company, through its subsidiaries, is a processor and distributor of industrial wood products as well as a wholesaler of wood products. It also manufactures and distributes specialty metal products.
Jewett-Cameron stock is up more than 25% as of noon.
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