Most people are happy right before a long weekend. But the stock market apparently doesn't share that sentiment, as stocks fell broadly today despite a favorable report on consumer sentiment. One possible deterrent for buyers may have been the ongoing problems in Europe, as most European markets will be open Monday, and therefore could prepare a nasty surprise for traders who hold positions for the long weekend. As a result, for the first time in a while, the stock market didn't manage to fight back from a late-afternoon deficit, and the Dow Jones Industrials (INDEX: ^DJI ) finished the week with a 75-point drop.
But several stocks managed to post gains despite the generally negative sentiment. Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ ) was the big winner, rising more than 2.5% and adding to its gains from yesterday following its earnings announcement. Although the restructuring of the tech giant may not be going as quickly as some would prefer, the company is clearly making some progress. After huge losses, the stock may finally be gaining popularity among value investors playing a potential turnaround.
Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT ) managed to rise slightly. The company has its annual meeting next week, at which a major topic of conversation will inevitably be the ongoing investigation of its bribery scandal in Mexico. Yet investors already seem to be looking past any potential consequences from that investigation, focusing instead on a recovering but still-fragile economy and the price-consciousness of consumers. The stock's rise represents another 52-week high for Wal-Mart.
Finally, Intel (Nasdaq: INTC ) rose about a third of a percent. An UBS analyst's upgrade of ARM Holdings (Nasdaq: ARMH ) didn't seem to faze the stock despite its assertion that ARM would be able to overcome any natural advantage that Intel may get from the release of Windows 8 later this year. Yet from a longer-term perspective, Intel stands out for another reason: In an industry that has been slow to adopt shareholder-friendly dividend policies, Intel was a leader and has produced amazing amounts of dividend growth over the past decade. Those traits should attract capital even as Intel faces challenges to its core business model.
Enjoy the weekend!
If you're tired of looking at the Dow's every move, you don't have to. Instead, think about the long-term. The Motley Fool's special report on the Fool's top stock for 2012 can help you get started, with the name of a company that the Fool's chief investment officer gave as his best pick. It's all in our free special report, which you can read free by clicking here to discover the name of this stock.