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There was one U.S. economic release today from the National Federation of Independent Business. However, it is completely overshadowed by the International Monetary Fund's October World Economic Outlook. The report's main message is that "risks for a serious global slowdown are alarmingly high."
The IMF estimates a 17% chance that worldwide growth falls to 2% in 2013, which would mean a "recession" in developed nations. "Recession" is in quotes because the IMF has a different definition than the standard one of two consecutive quarters of lower GDP. The IMF's definition is a drop in real per-capita GDP.
The IMF expects the global economy to grow 3.3% this year, down from its July estimate of 3.5% growth. For 2013, the IMF expects global growth of 3.6%, down from its July estimate of 3.9% growth.
It's not all doom and gloom. The IMF actually raised its estimate of U.S. growth from 2.1% to 2.2%. However, the entire IMF set of projections rests on two assumptions: first, that the EU will continue on the path it has set to help its member nations deal with their financial problems, and second, that Congress will get its act together and the U.S. will avoid the fiscal cliff.
The IMF expects much worse economic growth if either or both of these assumptions aren't met. World markets are down, but a few stocks are defying the Dow's drop.
Today's Dow leaders
Today's Dow leader is McDonald's (NYSE: MCD ) , up 0.84% ($0.77) to $92.31. For the second day in a row, McDonald's is rising as the market falls. There's no real news pushing McDonalds up. Last month the company raised its quarterly dividend by 10% to $0.77 per quarter for a 3.3% forward yield at today's prices. Fool analyst Russ Krull recently wrote up everything you need to know about McDonald's in an article entitled "McDonald's 101." Click here for his analysis.
Second for the day is Alcoa (NYSE: AA ) , up 0.44% ($0.04) to $9.16. Alcoa is a cyclical company highly dependent on GDP growth for profitability. The company reports earnings today after the market close, and the market is not expecting much. That has led some investors to believe the aluminum maker could take off if earnings are slightly better than expected. Fool analyst Joel South previewed Alcoa's earnings yesterday. Click here for his take.
The best approach
The rest of the week is full of potentially market-shaking events. Watching the broad market each day is exciting, but investing doesn't have to be gut-wrenching and stressful. 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.