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Well, any thoughts that we'd make it through 2012 without a big down day got quashed today, as the stock market finally posted a major decline. The Dow Jones Industrials (INDEX: ^DJI ) closed down 204 points, to 12,759, its first triple-digit loss of the year. The S&P 500 (INDEX: ^GSPC ) also dropped sharply, falling 21 points, to 1,343, for its biggest single-session loss of the year.
I could find three Dow stocks that rose today, but some stocks held up a lot better than others. Let's take a closer look at three of the better-performing stocks in the Dow today.
Intel (Nasdaq: INTC ) , up 0.2%
Most people don't see technology stocks as being particularly defensive. But good news can push a stock up, and that may be what helped Intel end up as the Dow's single gainer today, with a small rise.
Intel released the latest version of its Xeon chip for servers today. The server chip is aimed squarely at the cloud-computing market, with better performance and greater energy efficiency than its previous offerings. With server manufacturers expected to get onboard with server platforms using the chips, the move should bolster Intel's strength in the server-chip market against its rivals.
McDonald's (NYSE: MCD ) , down 0.1%
Big stock drops don't scare McDonald's investors. In case you don't remember, the fast-food giant was one of the few stocks that managed to post a gain in the bear market year of 2008, when the S&P fell 37%.
Of course, with a big part of McDonald's growth prospects coming from China, news of a potential slowdown in the economy of the world's most-populous nation could have an impact on the company going forward. But if China follows through with plans to focus on developing a stronger internal consumer base for its economy, then the move could actually help McDonald's -- by giving it a better-developed market to serve.
Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG ) , down 0.2%
It's not uncommon to find companies in defensive industries like consumer staples among top performers in down markets. P&G certainly meets the definition, with its strong stable of high-value brands commanding a presence in millions of households.
Today, the company once again was named as one of the most-admired businesses in the world, by Fortune magazine. Although P&G dropped from No. 5 last year to No. 9 this year, its ability to adapt to challenging markets and deal with the need to cut costs gave it the top rank in its industry.
Make the best of a bad lot
Great stocks hold up well even on down days. Find out about the one stock the Fool's chief investment officer picked to crush the market in this free report: "The Motley Fool's Top Stock for 2012." Instant access is just a click away.