Tuesday’s Mid-Day Movers: 3 Stories Driving Markets

The major stocks were wavering Tuesday afternoon, despite gains on Monday. As of 12 p.m.:

DIJA: +0.31% to 15382.97 S&P 500: +0.17% to 1669.18 NASDAQ: +0.10% to 3500.02
Gold: +1.03% to 75.2 Oil: -0.53% to 22.42 U.S. 10-Year: -0.92% to 19.47

Here are three stories helping shape the market on Tuesday afternoon:

1. Did Spring’s Arrival Give Americans a Reason to Spend? “Consumers played catch-up this past week and helped to propel weekly sales for retailers,” noted Chief Economist Michael Niemira in the weekly retail sales report produced by the International Council of Shopping and Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS). “However, weather conditions continue to play havoc with the weekly pace of sales,” he added.

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Spring’s arrival in late April gave retailers a small boost, as American spenders emerged from hibernation to purchase cars, new clothes, gardening equipment, and building supplies. This boost pushed up the Commerce Department’s reading of U.S. retail sales for the month of April; the measure increased 0.1 percent last month after declining 0.5 percent from February to March… (Read more.)

2. Are Americans Faulting Obama for the IRS Controversy? The narrative about what happened at the Internal Revenue Service’s tax-exempt division before and during the 2012 presidential election is still incomplete, but that hasn’t stopped people from drawing conclusions. According to a survey conducted by Pew Research between May 16 and May 19, 42 percent of Americans believe that the Obama administration was somehow involved in the IRS targeting ordeal.

The same survey showed that 31 percent of Americans believe that IRS employees were responsible for the decision, while 27 percent responded “don’t know.” Unsurprisingly, the results of the survey show partisanship when broken down by political affiliation… (Read more.)

3. Will Consumers Be Hurt by Obamacare? Politicians, commentators, business leaders, and common Americans have argued to death what Obamacare will mean for America, questioning whether it will expand the powers of the federal government too far, or hurt small businesses, or put a heavy burden on the country’s finances. But one thing is clear: health insurance companies will have to reinvent themselves, and re-price their services to comply with the requirements of healthcare reform.

The requirements of the Affordable Care Act, which was championed by President Barack Obama, will bring sweeping changes to healthcare in the United States; insurers can no longer deny coverage due to preexisting conditions; preventative care and wellness screenings are now available at no additional cost; lifetime dollar limits on health plans have been eliminated; and superstore-like state health exchanges are meant to make shopping for health insurance easier and more affordable… (Read more.)

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