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On Halloween, the scariest things you see should be the costumed kids coming to your door. But thanks to Hurricane Sandy, many investors were scared about how successful the stock exchanges would be in having an orderly trading session. Despite a few financial institutions having trouble with generators and other infrastructure issues, the markets managed to have a full trading session, even if the Dow Jones Industrials (INDEX: ^DJI ) disappointed bullish investors with about a 10-point loss. For the month of October, the Dow finished down about 340 points, its first monthly loss since May.
Yet, many stocks bucked the lukewarm mood among traders and finished higher. Home Depot (NYSE: HD ) was a fan favorite throughout the market's off-days, as the home-improvement store chain saw its stock jump by more than 2%, on hopes that people needing to repair their homes and business properties would buy more building materials and other products.
Bank stocks in the Dow also did well, with Bank of America (NYSE: BAC ) rising more than 2%, and JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM ) gaining a percent and a quarter on the session. Both banks were among those giving their customers some fee breaks, but the gains likely came from speculation that the need for major rebuilding in the New York City area could lead to a lessening of tensions between banks and state and local governments, especially the New York Attorney General's office.
Finally, Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT ) gained more than 1%. It's too early to tell whether the release of its Surface tablet and its Windows 8 operating system will move the company substantially forward in its attempt to penetrate the mobile market. Even if it's successful, the software giant still has a long way to go to make up its loss of brand dominance over the past decade.
With the market open again, you don't have to be afraid of not being able to buy or sell stocks anymore. What should keep you up at night, though, is figuring out whether there are any hidden dangers in your portfolio. For instance, with Microsoft having frustrated investors for a long time, will its recent launches really manage to make Microsoft's stock a buy again? Our tech analyst explains that, while the opportunity is huge, the challenges are many. He's also providing regular updates as key events occur, so make sure to claim a copy of this report now by clicking here.