The markets opened up in a dour mood after the two-day break that was imposed by Hurricane Sandy. As of 2 p.m. EDT, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI ) is down 33 points, with only nine of its 30 blue-chip members in positive territory.
Most of the losers barely moved the Dow's needle, though. I'm counting 13 red numbers that only took one or two points each off the index's total value. The biggest point-loss stems from oil giant Chevron (NYSE: CVX ) , costing the Dow 11 points on news that Sandy knocked out power to refineries across the Northeast. Walt Disney (NYSE: DIS ) also dropped as investors viewed its $4 billion deal to acquire Star Wars studio Lucasfilm with a wary eye. Disney's fall gave the Dow an eight-point haircut.
But things could have been far worse. Shares of Home Depot (NYSE: HD ) jumped 2.5% as consumers rushed off to stock up on home repair supplies. Lowe's (NYSE: LOW ) gained 3.2%, and flooring specialist Lumber Liquidators (NYSE: LL ) soared 3.3% -- all thanks to Sandy. Home Depot's jump supported the Dow with a 10-point gain.
But the biggest contributor of positive Dow points today didn't lean on the Frankenstorm at all. IBM (NYSE: IBM ) gained 0.86% as the company announced another $5 billion share buyback plan. Big Blue now has $11.7 billion of funds set aside for share repurchases and still expects to increase the allotment again next April. Company leaders may not be the best stock-market investors on the planet, but IBM's management team clearly thinks the stock is undervalued right now.
IBM's relatively small jump had a big impact on the Dow, which reaped 15 points of benefit from Big Blue's small move. That's the way the cookie crumbles when the stock accounts for 11.5% of the Dow's total value.
Sandy is gone, the markets are back in business, and the Dow made it through largely unscathed. We don't call these stocks blue chips for nothing.
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