For three months at the beginning of 2012, it seemed like stocks could do no wrong. Now, though, investors seem to be focusing on all the negatives, with a report on factory orders adding to concerns that last Friday's jobs report raised, stoking fear that the U.S. economy may stop expanding. Yet even though the Dow Jones Industrials (INDEX: ^DJI ) couldn't even managed a minor bounced from Friday's big 275-point sell-off, dropping another 17 points on the day, the S&P 500 and Nasdaq both managed to post gains on the day.
Moreover, unlike Friday, some Dow components managed to beat the gloom and rise. Home Depot (NYSE: HD ) was the big winner, rising 1.7% despite having no major news to report. Homebuilding stocks were generally lower, but optimism following rival Lowe's decision to boost its dividend last week seems to have carried over to Home Depot as well.
Alcoa (NYSE: AA ) also gained more than 1% on the day. The move may seem odd given that automakers, which are some of its primary customers, gave up ground today. But with a combination of automotive, aerospace, and consumer-product demand for its aluminum, Alcoa's long-term success will remain dependent on the health of the overall industrial economy going forward.
Finally, Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ ) rose 0.9% following a call from Goldman Sachs analysts for the company to split into three parts. Given that major competitors Abbott Labs (NYSE: ABT ) and Pfizer are both looking at breakups of their own, a similar move from J&J might well add value for investors. But new CEO Alex Gorsky looks to be following a different path, perhaps seeking acquisitions to become even larger.
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