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The stock market was in a holiday mood, willing to look past the ongoing global macroeconomic concerns and focusing instead on some positive news. Better-than-expected U.S. auto sales boosted shares of Ford (NYSE: F ) and General Motors, and with oil, gold, and other commodities on the rise, the risk-on trade appeared to be back across the board. By the end of the day, the Dow Jones Industrials (INDEX: ^DJI ) closed up 72 points, while broader market indexes posted even bigger percentage gains.
Most Dow stocks were higher, but a few lagged behind. The biggest loser of the day was Home Depot (NYSE: HD ) , which fell more than 2.5%. Even after the fall, the stock remains just a few percent away from multiyear highs. Some cited the weekend's storms in the Mid-Atlantic states as a reason for the drop, but one would think that a storm that did significant damage would boost home-improvement material sales. Regardless, what the stock needs for long-term success is for the housing market to recover, encouraging more activity that would in turn boost sales.
AT&T (NYSE: T ) dropped a bit more than half a percent, falling back from four-year highs of its own. The company said yesterday that it will begin offering the Samsung Galaxy S III Android smartphone on Friday. However, the company will sell only the 16 GB version of the phone. The move represents the latest example of how AT&T is trying to diversify its product line well beyond the iPhone, which has been a huge source of sales for the mobile carrier but also comes with substantial costs.
Finally, Pfizer (NYSE: PFE ) also closed down about half a percent. The company filed a new plan in bankruptcy court for its Quigley unit, which has been mired in bankruptcy for eight years as it tries to navigate claims against it concerning asbestos liability. The latest plan would protect Quigley and Pfizer, which bought the unit in 1968, by having Pfizer contribute $260 million in cash to a trust as well as dropping Pfizer claims against Quigley. The episode demonstrates the danger of taking on businesses that are unrelated to a company's core operations.
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