The Dow Ends April With a Whimper

Good earnings from several blue-chip companies couldn't keep the market's momentum going this month. So today's across-the-board sell-off citing economic weakness was the perfect send-off for a turbulent April.

Before we take a closer look at a few stocks making news, let's see how the major indexes fared today.

Index

Gain / Loss

Gain / Loss %

Ending Value

Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI  ) (14.68) (0.11%) 13,213.63
Nasdaq (22.84) (0.74%) 3,046.36
S&P 500 (5.45) (0.39%) 1,397.91

Source: Yahoo! Finance.

The Dow held on to a positive monthly gain by its fingertips as flat consumer spending and weak ISM data highlight an economy that may be taking its foot off the gas again. The year started out with similar momentum, only to see it tapering off into the summer months, and fears are starting to mount that we could witness another head fake. First-quarter GDP growth was down 0.8% sequentially, small-business hiring has slowed, and manufacturing in the Midwest is at a two-and-a-half-year low point. Financial crises are notoriously difficult to recover from, and with the Federal Reserve having few tools remaining to battle a liquidity trap, not to mention total policy gridlock in Congress, a tepid recovery with persistently high unemployment is quickly becoming the new normal.

In slightly lighter news, a pair of Dow components dominated water-cooler gossip, as it appeared they had found new flames.

Shares of Monster Beverage (Nasdaq: MNST  ) popped 28% on talk that Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO  ) was looking to snap up the energy-drink maker. That gain was short lived, though, after Coke threw cold water on investors dreaming of a happily ever-after for the companies. Their relationship is more of a "friends with benefits," as Coke already has a distribution deal with Monster but refuses to commit, even after negotiations last year. As of now, it looks as if a deal is not imminent, but Monster will continue to hope to one day find a suitable acquirer.

Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) has no qualms making its intentions known after investing $605 million in Barnes & Noble's (NYSE: BKS  ) Nook tablet business. Like the popular Kindle, the Nook's platform is borne out of an e-reader, but the product offerings have grown increasingly complex. For its investment, Microsoft gains a foothold in the tablet market and access to an ecosystem with the potential to eventually challenge rivals. B&N gets credibility and much-needed cash, which resulted in a 52% increase in shares today. Considering Mr. Softy's lack of success in mobile to date, few expect a Windows 8 Nook to topple the iPad or Kindle, but it does make the race for tablet supremacy a little more interesting.

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David Williamson owns shares of Coca-Cola, but he holds no other position in any company mentioned. Check out his holdings and a short bio. The Motley Fool owns shares of Microsoft and Coca-Cola. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Microsoft, Monster Beverage, and Coca-Cola, writing puts on Barnes & Noble, and creating a bull call spread position in Microsoft. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.


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