Things remained largely quiet in U.S. markets today. Despite some anxiety over anti-austerity political candidates both in Greece and France, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI ) closed with only a minor loss today. It tumbled 0.2%, or 30 points, today -- chump change. However, the negative close does extend the Dow's losing streak to four consecutive days.
Both the Nasdaq and S&P 500 eked out slight gains in today's trading session. The market's so-called "fear gauge," the VIX (INDEX: ^VIX ) , also declined 1.2% today, further reiterating the market's quiet stance today.
Around the markets
Individual stocks showed a little more life during the day's trading session. Among Dow components, Bank of America (NYSE: BAC ) rose almost 3% on huge volume after receiving a 6.2% haircut last week. Not to be outdone, shares of Vertex Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq: VRTX ) surged 55.4% during today's action on news that in a clinical trial, a combination therapy including its drug Kalydeco helped improve lung functioning in adult cystic-fibrosis patients with a specific mutation. The stock had traded for only a slight gain thus far in 2012.
In after-hours trading, MAKO Surgical (Nasdaq: MAKO ) traded down around 30% at the time of this writing after rallying strongly during today's trading. Despite growing its top line an impressive 51%, the company lost $0.28 per share, versus the average analyst estimate expecting a loss of only $0.20. Seeing these massive swings should remind investors of the hazards of investing the biotech arena. But despite the ups and downs, these companies should still hold plenty of promise, even despite MAKO's black eye today.
Foolish bottom line
Unless you're fortunate enough to have an especially prescient crystal ball, successful investors buy in for the long term. And investing for the long term involves riding the occasional up or down in a company's share price. Seeing massive swings will test even the bravest investor, though, and that's why finding companies you think stand a chance of winning over the long term and holding on to them through the market's noise is so important. The Fool recently detailed three stocks that have all the makings of a long-term winner. We made the report free to our readers, so access your free copy today.