Thursday’s Midday Movers: 3 Stories Driving Markets

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The major U.S. markets were still sinking Thursday. As of 12 p.m.:

DIJA: -1.27% to 15143.41 S&P 500: -1.21% to 1664.99 NASDAQ: -1.34% to 3619.93
Gold: -0.14% to 76.81 Oil: +0.63% to 25.36 U.S. 10-Year: +2.40% to 27.77

Here are three stories helping shape the market Thursday afternoon.
1. Are Home Builders Floating on Cloud Nine? While the real estate market is still well below its glory days of the housing bubble, confidence among home builders in the United States continues to reach new multiyear highs.

After declining for three consecutive months earlier this year, the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo’s index of builder confidence posted its fourth straight monthly gain in August, rising 3 points to reach 59. Confidence is now at its highest level in almost eight years, bringing back memories of the boom.

2. Wal-Mart Is Not Happy with the Economic Recovery: “There are areas of our business where we can do a better job, and we will,” Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) CEO Mike Duke said in the company’s second-quarter earnings press release. “I’m confident in our associates’ abilities to deliver for our customers with [everyday low prices] and for shareholders with improved expense savings.”

Sales at stores open for at least one year dropped 0.3 percent in the United States, the company’s largest region of operations during the three-month period, while Wall Street was expecting sales to rise 1 percent. The decline in sales came, in part, as a result of the 0.5 percent drop in the number of visits from U.S. customers who are struggling after the hit of January’s payroll tax hike and the ongoing shaky labor market recovery. Even worse, the discount retailer expects there to be little improvement in the current quarter, despite the approach of the important back-to-school shopping season.

3. Consumer Price Inflation Cools as Taper Talk Heats Up: The seasonally adjusted Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers, or CPI-U, increased 0.2 percent on the month in July, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is consistent with economist expectations but is soft compared to a 0.5 percent increase in June. Over the past 12 months, the all unadjusted all-items index has climbed 2 percent.

Don’t Miss: Are Home Builders Floating on Cloud Nine?