Last week, investors enjoyed the announcement and subsequent afterglow of the U.S. Federal Reserve's much-anticipated third round of quantitative easing. Chairman Ben Bernanke has kept QE3 open-ended, meaning the Fed will continue to buy various securities to push rates lower and hopefully spur investment. While this may not get the economy jump-started, given the uniqueness of the crisis, at least the Fed has stopped sitting on its hands and is doing what it can -- with limited ammunition left.
Today, all three major indexes are catching their breath. After topping multiyear highs, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI ) down 38 points, or 0.3%, with the S&P 500 (INDEX: ^GSPC ) pacing it with a 0.3% slide. The Nasdaq is seeing todays biggest decline -- more than 0.4%. With a lack of market-moving economic data other than a troubling manufacturing report from the NY Fed, today's action is largely nothing more than light profit-taking. The small declines today are not an end to the larger market rally.
On the Dow, the profit-taking from last week can be seen in full effect. Two of the largest decliners are Bank of America (NYSE: BAC ) and Alcoa (NYSE: AA ) , down 2.2% and 1.9%, respectively. Both stocks have seen strong 8% gains over the past week and directly benefit from the Fed's aggressive monetary policies.
Off the Dow, all eyes are on Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) . The world's largest publicly traded company does nothing but get bigger: It's less than $5 away from hitting $700 per share, and its $653 billion market cap is now 50% greater than second-place finisher ExxonMobil. The iPhone 5 release is poised to be the largest consumer product launch ever, and the company received more than 2 million online orders in the first day. The company has generally done a good job minimizing shortages, but it is already signaling that demand for the highly anticipated smartphone is outstripping supply.
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