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After last week's lousy run, early on today it looked like the stock market would put in an across-the-board jump, as strong retail sales figures for March pushed stocks higher right out of the gate. But a decline in homebuilder confidence combined with more concerns about Spanish bond yields and a big drop in shares of Apple pulled the broader market lower. At around 10:45 a.m. EDT, the Dow Jones Industrials (INDEX: ^DJI ) were still up 67 points to 12,916, but the S&P 500 (INDEX: ^GSPC ) was flat and the Nasdaq Composite was down, largely due to Apple's influence.
Following Apple's trend, Cisco (Nasdaq: CSCO ) dropped more than 1%, holding back the Dow's advance. As Fool analysts Charly Travers and Jason Moser observed this morning, the networking company has bounced back strongly from its 2011 woes, but investors haven't bid the stock price up very far as they apparently refuse to recognize Cisco's growth potential.
ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM ) rose nearly 1%. Reports over the weekend suggested that Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson would travel to Russia to enter into a partnership with Russian state oil company Rosneft. The deal would involve granting Rosneft access to projects in the U.S. and Canada while giving Exxon a firmer hold on Russian offshore drilling in the Arctic Ocean and Black Sea.
Finally, Disney (NYSE: DIS ) was down about 0.4% after announcing that it would enlist the help of a Chinese partner, DMG Entertainment, to produce and film the next installment of its Iron Man series in China. The move should help Disney expand its brand presence in the emerging nation, where huge populations represent a major growth opportunity for the entertainment company.
Riding the waves
Earnings season will inevitably bring on plenty of ups and downs, and knowing what's coming before it happens is crucial. In its brand-new special report, The Motley Fool has identified five stocks that investors simply have to watch this earnings season. The report is free, so let me invite you to click here and get the scoop before these companies report.