After declining briefly in early trading, the major U.S. stock market indexes moved into the green, remaining modestly positive, for the most part, through the close. The trading environment was somewhat choppy, as a slew of mixed, but mostly positive, economic releases took the focus. The data appeared to reaffirm expectations for a December interest-rate hike by the Federal Reserve. Meanwhile, today is the last full trading day of this holiday-shortened week, with markets closing tomorrow for Thanksgiving, and winding up early on Friday.
Following closely on the heels of reassuring reports issued earlier this morning on weekly jobless claims (which fell further during the latest seven-day stretch), personal income (which rose nicely in October), and durable goods orders (which increased by twice the 1.5% rate expected last month), came word that new home sales had increased smartly in October.
The business outlook at natural and organic foods grocer Whole Foods Market, Inc. (WFM) appears cloudy. However, this could provide a good entry point for value-oriented investors. The question investors should ask is whether management will be able to improve business prospects given the mounting competition in the industry. Another question is whether the stock is a good long-term play. We will address these issues by performing an easy-to-follow SWOT analysis of the company, evaluating its Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.