The Dow's 3 Shining Stars Today

Mr. Market couldn't seem to figure out whether to zig or zag in today's session. All three major indices, the Dow Jones Industrials Average (INDEX: ^DJI  ) , S&P 500, and Nasdaq (INDEX: ^IXIC  ) , dropped in early trading. The troops were rallied, though, and they clawed back through the morning, eventually pushing the Nasdaq into positive territory while the S&P and Dow Jones seemed unable to breach their open price.

 Index

Gain / Loss

Gain / Loss %

Ending Value

Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI ) -55.78 (-0.45%) 12,359.92
Nasdaq (INDEX: ^IXIC ) +4.36 +0.16% 2,674.22
S&P 500 -3.25 (-0.25%) 1,277.81

The macro news items moving markets today were the unemployment and payroll numbers. The unemployment rate came in at 8.5%, below the 8.7% that was expected. Nonfarm payrolls climbed by 200,000, topping the expected increase of 150,000. Private payrolls were up by 212,000, above the anticipated 170,000. Of course, the specter that is Europe's possible implosion still looms menacingly over markets as well.

The bright spots
Just because the markets were flat today, that doesn't mean there weren't a few winners, though.

Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) was up an impressive 1.54% for the day, a nice endnote that brought its total gain for the week to 8.3%. Of all the stocks on the Dow, Microsoft is the second biggest overall gainer for the week. Stay tuned to see whether it can keep the momentum going, and be sure to watch whether Windows 8 crashes or splashes in the PC market.

Disney (NYSE: DIS  ) defied the broad market by jumping up 1.04% to end the day at $39.91. This follows on the heels of its 1.67% jump yesterday. The company is about flat for the past 12 months. Disney rose in the first half of 2011, lost a lot of value in late July, and then had a strong push from its October depths to end near to where it started 2011. Stay tuned Feb. 7, when executives are set to discuss fiscal first-quarter 2012 financial results by webcast.  

Rounding out the winners today is McDonald's (NYSE: MCD  ) , up 0.77%. The Golden Arches may as well be investors' smiles this year, as the company has made a habit of its amazing returns. The consistent 2.8% dividend yield -- which was raised from $0.61 a share to $0.70 recently -- certainly has people lovin' the company. Then again, the stock trades near its 52-week high and is leaning toward the expensive side of its valuation at a P/E of 19.72. Keep an eye on this company to see whether its growth story can continue.

Looking past one up day
It's times like this everyone wants to run toward value stocks and set and forget their portfolios. While I love value stocks, investors should also consider the massive potential of a good growth story, and I have just the one.

It's not located on the Dow, but you can uncover "The Motley Fool's Top Stock for 2012," in our brand-new free report. In it we reveal a stock with some of the biggest growth potential I've ever seen. Grab your free copy today before it's gone.

Austin Smith owns shares of McDonald's. The Motley Fool owns shares of Microsoft. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of McDonald's, Microsoft, and Walt Disney and creating a bull call spread position in Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


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