A Roller-Coaster Day Sends the Dow Higher

U.S. stock markets swung back and forth throughout today's trading session, eventually settling slightly higher by day's end. For the day, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI  ) settled just under 0.3% in positive territory. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq closed up 0.1% and down 0.4%, respectively. Coming off several highly volatile weeks, driven largely by the daily drama over whether Greece will pay its own tab, stocks swung mildly back and forth today, changing direction five different times.

Source: Google Finance.

Investors' nerves apparently also eased today, as volatility sank precipitously during the day's session. The market's so-called "fear gauge," or the VIX (INDEX: ^VIX  ) , lost 3.5% today as well.

Around the markets
Individual stocks provided more to talk about throughout the day. PC powerhouse Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ  ) popped out of the gate and settled 3.3% higher than yesterday. The market gave its most recent earnings and Meg Whitman's restructuring plans a stamp of approval. In an effort to stave off the company's slow march to the dustbin, Whitman announced HP will cut 27,000 jobs (roughly 8% of its global workforce) and plow the cost savings into increased research and development. The company needs to break into new growth avenues such as enterprise IT and smart devices. And while this move certainly increases its odds of surviving, it has a long road to walk before getting to the promised land. Good luck, HP!

Looking elsewhere, shares of data-storage firm NetApp (Nasdaq: NTAP  ) nosedived to end the day 12.3% lower. The company released the dreaded double-whammy of disappointing earnings and weaker-than-expected forward guidance that sent it sharply southbound. In keeping with downward plunges, natural gas play Westport Innovations (Nasdaq: WPRT  ) gave up almost off of its substantial gains from yesterday. The company, which makes nat-gas conversion kits for heavy-duty vehicles, has investors' interest distinctly piqued as natural gas prices sit at extreme lows.

Putting it all together
Whether saving for retirement or something else, investors always need to maintain a long-term horizon. Fortunately, relatively calm days like today give investors the chance to look beyond their holdings for potential winners. The Fool recently spotted three winners that savers should loves, which we detail in our retirement stock research report. If you'd like to delve into these retirement plays in greater depth, check out the report today.

Andrew Tonner held no financial position in any of the companies mentioned in this article at the time of publication. You can follow Andrew and all his writing on Twitter at @AndrewTonner.

The Motley Fool owns shares of Westport Innovations. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Westport Innovations. 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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NASD 5,257.40 15.57 0.30%

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Related Tickers

10/21/2016 4:47 PM
^DJI $18145.71 Down -16.64 -0.09%
^VIX $13.34 Down -0.41 -2.98%
Volatility S&P 500 CAPS Rating: No stars
HPQ $13.80 Down -0.30 -2.13%
HP CAPS Rating: ***
NTAP $33.92 Up +0.05 +0.15%
NetApp CAPS Rating: ****
WPRT $1.61 Up +0.02 +1.26%
Westport Fuel Syst… CAPS Rating: ****