The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI ) is riding a rollercoaster today. It actually looks like a bunch of fun -- unless your capital is at risk.
The index climbed as much as 61 points this morning thanks to a double shot of good news. House prices are still on the rise, and "consumer confidence" is no longer an oxymoron. Home Depot (NYSE: HD ) enjoyed both ends of that double serving and led the Dow with a 2% jump at most.
But the party didn't last long. The Dow took a dive shortly after midday, and it currently trades some 19 points lower for the day.
Industrial-machinery maker Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT ) single-handedly took 20 points off the Dow, with a big chunk of the loss coming at lunchtime. The company just issued a cautious outlook for fiscal year 2015 -- yes, three years ahead. Some companies really do plan ahead. CEO Doug Oberhelman cited geopolitical and economic risk factors as he cut that long-term earnings outlook by 15%.
Other big moves include a 1.7% drop by Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ ) , which was hit by a reiterated "sell" rating from JPMorgan. "We recommend that investors avoid printing stocks [like] Hewlett-Packard," said the firm's research report. Meanwhile, General Electric (NYSE: GE ) gained 1.1% on regulatory approval for a uranium enrichment plant in North Carolina, plus some progress in the company's sale of $7 billion in MetLife deposits.
Watching the broad market each day may be as exciting as a rollercoaster ride, but investing doesn't have to be that crazy. If you're in the mood to pick up some solid buys for the long term, The Motley Fool has created a brand-new free report from our expert analysts called "2 Dirt Cheap Stocks With Huge Dividends." It won't be available forever, so click here -- it's free.