The Dow's Calm Before the Fed

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI  ) crept higher still today, gaining 10 points or almost 0.1% as the market shrugged off the day's two big news events and awaits word from the Federal Reserve tomorrow on interest rates and a possible new round of quantitative easing.

As expected, Germany's supreme court said the nation could participate in the European Stability Mechanism, the eurozone's new bailout fund. The decision made Germany the last country to approve the emergency funding and paved the way for the EU's biggest economy to contribute $245 billion to the $640 billion fund. The court did set restrictions on the funding including that it couldn't increase without parliamentary approval.

The major news event of the day, and probably the biggest one in the tech world this year, was of course the unveiling of Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) iPhone 5. The device is thinner and 20% lighter than the old one, and it has a larger screen at 4 inches and improved resolution and quicker processing time, but there were no major surprises in the new phone. Apple shares finished a volatile trading day up 1.4%.

The new iPhone helped make Verizon (NYSE: VZ  ) the Dow's biggest winner, as the wireless provider climbed 1.5%. The iPhone 5 will be LTE-compatible, which could favor Verizon, as it's well ahead of rivals AT&T and Sprint Nextel in 4G LTE coverage. AT&T, the iPhone's original partner, still sells more of the device than any other wireless carrier, but Verizon's LTE advantage could tip the scales in its favor.

On the flip side of the coin, chemical and seed-producer DuPont (NYSE: DD  ) was the biggest loser on the day, falling 1.6% after the USDA cut its soybean and oilseed production forecast and corn futures fell to a seven-week low.

Elsewhere, McDonald's (NYSE: MCD  ) announced that it would begin posting calorie counts on all of its menus, preempting possible government action that would require such information be made public. The move marks the Golden Arches' latest step toward greater health consciousness as the chain has introduced salads, apples in Happy Meals, and other healthier options. Shares fell 0.4% during the day.

Facebook also posted its best day in its four-month history, gaining 7.7% after CEO Mark Zuckerberg made comments yesterday recognizing that his company had made mistakes but reassured investors by telling them the company is focusing on new products in search and advertising that should bring greater profits.

Looking ahead to tomorrow, the Fed's all-important announcement should guide the market for the day. Chairman Ben Bernanke is scheduled to speak at 12:30 p.m. ET.

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Fool contributor Jeremy Bowman owns shares of Apple. The Motley Fool owns shares of McDonald's, Facebook, and Apple. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Apple, McDonald's, and Facebook and creating a bull call spread position in Apple. 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. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


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