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The stock market finally broke out of its wishy-washy streak today, with a solid advance that put major market measures within sight of multi-year highs. With a few pro mising comments coming out of Europe, and mixed economic news on the housing front, investors chose to accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative today, sending the Dow Jones Industrials (INDEX: ^DJI ) up 85 points to 13,250, while the S&P 500 (INDEX: ^GSPC ) picked up nearly 10 points, closing to within just a few points of its best close of the year.
But a few Dow stocks missed out on the good times. The worst performer was Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT ) , which disappointed investors with its earnings report this morning. Yet, despite negative short-term trends, Wal-Mart is clearly transforming the retail industry, with specialty competitors in areas like office supply, struggling to survive in its wake. Nevertheless, the news sent Wal-Mart's stock down more than 3%.
McDonald's (NYSE: MCD ) also lost ground, shedding about 0.4%. As Fool blogger Elizabeth Powers pointed out earlier today, the decline in McDonald's stock so far in 2012 has come despite overall market strength. Yet, while arguments that McDonald's isn't as health-conscious as some of its newer rivals, which have been around for some time, an equally compelling argument is simply that the fast-food giant's shares are taking a breather after big advances in 2010 and 2011.
Finally, Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ ) was down about 0.2%. The company said that it would remove formaldehyde and certain other potentially dangerous chemicals from its products over the next three years. Yet, while the move clearly makes sense, it also raised concerns about why the chemicals were in the products in the first place. The last thing J&J needs is another consumer scandal after a long run of recalls and other problems in recent years.
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