3 Stocks That Crushed the Dow Today

Despite all the hype ahead of the conclusion of the Federal Reserve meeting today, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI  ) could only manage to end the day essentially flat. The Federal Reserve wound up extending Operation Twist through the end of the year, a program designed to lower long-term interest rates that was slated to expire at the end of the month.

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke made sure to make the point that "if we don't see further improvement in the labor market, we will be prepared to take additional steps if appropriate." But some investors were wondering why the Fed wasn't more aggressive now, especially after lowering 2012 GDP growth estimates. The Fed also lowered its estimates for employment and inflation over the next few years.

But while the Dow dropped slightly today, down 0.10%, there were some individual stocks that managed to buck that trend and turn in a great day for their shareholders.

Company

Change Today

JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM  ) 3.02%
Cisco Systems (Nasdaq: CSCO  ) 1.92%
Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ  ) 1.68%

JPMorgan Chase was today's big winner, rising more than 3%. The jump was mainly attributable to reports that the bank had sold off 65% to 70% of its position that resulted in least $2 billion in trading losses announced last month. Investors were worried after the announcement of the trading losses that other institutions could take the other side of the trades, further exacerbating the losses. The fact that around two-thirds of these positions are closed probably helps JPMorgan investors sleep better at night, though it's certainly still very possible that actual losses from the bad trade wind up being well over the $2 billion initially cited.

Cisco rose nearly 2% on the day to become the Dow's second highest gainer. Cisco's good day seems mostly due to BMO Capital Markets' upgrade of the stock to "outperform." BMO cited high growth of Cisco's data centers or servers segment as one reason for the upgrade, expecting the segment to account for 15% of the company's growth this year. BMO also said that most of Cisco's weakness is due to macro concerns and stated that the company offers "better growth than most of its peer group."

Fellow tech giant Hewlett-Packard rounded out the Dow's winners today. HP rebounded after posting the Dow's biggest loss yesterday on news that Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) had turned the tables and effectively became a competitor with its new Surface tablet. Today's gain might be chalked up to the prevailing of cooler heads -- as my Foolish colleague Dan Caplinger pointed out, HP's most promising areas for growth might not be hardware, but other markets like enterprise software, where HP has shown promise. But despite the solid day, HP is still by far the Dow's biggest decliner in 2012, dropping more than 17 points year to date.

Many investors rightly look to the Dow for companies with strong dividends and highly sustainable competitive advantages built for the long haul. We've taken an in-depth look at all 30 Dow components and picked out our three favorite dividend Dow stocks that investors can buy right now. You can find the names and analysis of these companies in our brand-new free report, "The 3 Dow Stocks Dividend Investors Need." Read the report now -- it's absolutely free.

Brendan Byrnes owns no shares of any company mentioned above. The Motley Fool owns shares of Cisco Systems, JPMorgan Chase, and Microsoft. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of 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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