The stock markets in the United States gained today driven by positive retail sales data, which demonstrated that the economy is experiencing moderate growth. Based on the current data, retail sales climbed for the fourth consecutive month in July by 0.2%. Analysts said that the report indicated that American households are regaining momentum because of increasing employment opportunities.

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In a phone interview with Bloomberg, John Carrey, fund manager at Pioneer Investment Management commented, “The general tenor of economic news has been somewhat positive and so perhaps there are some bargain hunters who are coming into the market after some days of correction.” He added that the economy is certainly growing, albeit slowly.

Dennis Lockhart, president of the Federal Bank of Atlanta, said that policymakers may start reducing its $85 billion bond buying program during their upcoming meetings due to the “uneven performance” of the economy. Last week, his fellow Regional Fed presidents Charles Evans, Sandra Pianalto, and Richard Fisher, stated that policymakers would start tapering quantitative easing by September. Their statements resulted in a decline in the stock markets.

U.S. Markets

  • Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA)- 15,451 (0.20%)
  • S&P 500- 1,694 (+.28%)
  • NASDAQ- 3,684 (+0.39%)
  • Russell 2000- 1,051 (-0.20%)

European Markets

  • EURO STOXX 50 Price EUR- 2,841 (+0.51%)
  • FTSE 100 Index- 6,611 (+0.57%)
  • Deutsche Borse AG German Stock Index DAX- 8,415 (+0.68%)

Asia Pacific Markets

  • Nikkei 225- 13,867 (+2.57%)
  • Hong Kong Hang Seng Index- 22, 541 (+1.25%)
  • Shanghai Shenzhen CSI 300 Index- 2,359 (+.27%)

Stocks In Focus

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)

The stock price of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) surged by more than 5% to as much as $493.96 per share after activist investor Carl Icahn revealed that he owns a large stake in the iPhone and iPad maker. He tweeted that the shares of the tech giant are “extremely undervalued” and he spoke with Apple CEO, Tim Cook. He recommended a larger shares buyback to boost the stock.

US Airways Group Inc (LCC)

US Airways Group Inc (NYSE:LCC) declined by almost 12% to around $16.56 per share after the Department of Justice (DOJ) challenged its $11billion merger proposal with AMR Corporation (OTCMKTS:AAMRQ), the parent company of American Airlines. The stock price of AMR Corporation plummeted by more than 45% to $3.15 per share. According to U.S. Attorney General, Eric Holder, the proposed transaction is harmful to consumers because they will end up paying higher airfares, higher fees, and fewer choices.

J.C. Penney Company, Inc. (JCP)

J.C. Penney Company, Inc. (NYSE:JCP) declined by 4% to around $12.63 per share after activist inbvestor, Bill Ackman resigned from the board of the embattled department store chain. J.C. Penney has been a hotbed for media discussions since Ackman demanded the replacement of its current CEO Mike Ullman. Some people in the investment community believe that Ackman’s behavior towards the company was disruptive. Observers believe that the decline of the stock value of J.C. Penney today showed worries that Ackman might pull up his stake in the company. The activist investor is the largest shareholder in the company with a 17.7% stake.

BlackBerry Ltd (BBRY)

The stock value of BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) (TSE:BB) increased by more than 1% to $10.87 in New York amid speculations that Prem Watsa, the largest shareholder of the company, is putting together a group to acquire and take the smartphone manufacturer private. Watsa stated that he remains a strong supporter of BlackBerry.

Xerox Corporation (XRX)

Xerox Corporation (NYSE:XRX) gained 3.45% to $10.50 per share after analysts from Citigroup Inc. (NYSE:C) raised their rating for the stock from neutral to buy. The maker of copiers and printers is expected to benefit from the implementation of the new health care law of the Obama Administration next year.