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Why the Dow Didn't Rise More Today

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Overall, the stock market had a relatively calm day today, as investors largely were in wait-and-see mode with important employment numbers due out tomorrow. With no new news on the fiscal cliff negotiations, a rebound in tech stocks helped lead the markets higher, with the Dow Jones Industrials (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) finishing up about 40 points.

Yet, those gains would have been more impressive if it hadn't been for a few losing stocks. Travelers (NYSE: TRV  ) lost just half a percent but, on a point basis, it contributed the biggest drag on the Dow today due to the Dow's price-weighted formula. To put the move into context, however, you have to know that Travelers' stock jumped almost 5% yesterday, after the insurance company gave its damage estimates from Hurricane Sandy. In that light, a half-percent give-back is insubstantial, and shows that investors are still pleased about modest losses that won't endanger the company's long-term prospects.

AT&T (NYSE: T  ) had the biggest percentage drop, falling about three-quarters of a percent. The wireless carrier got the bad news that it will likely have even more competition in the lucrative iPhone market, as T-Mobile announced a deal with Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL  ) to offer its devices to customers. Interestingly, the move didn't hold back other telecom companies, but with AT&T having been the first company to offer iPhones, it makes sense that any change in the competitive landscape would affect it the most.

Finally, UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH  ) lost a third of a percent today. As Fool contributor Dan Carroll noted yesterday, the newest member of the Dow was the only insurance carrier to post growth in net margins, and UnitedHealth has done a better job of attracting new members. That's likely to become increasingly important when health-care reform laws take full effect, pulling millions of new potential customers into the insurance pool.

Behold the Apple effect
AT&T is just one of the dozens of companies that have ridden Apple's coattails over the past several years, but what about the tech giant itself? With the stock having made a huge run, many investors disagree about whether Apple remains a buy. The Motley Fool's senior technology analyst and managing bureau chief, Eric Bleeker, is prepared to fill you in on both reasons to buy, and reasons to sell Apple, and what opportunities are left for the company (and more importantly, your portfolio) going forward. To get instant access to his latest thinking on Apple, simply click here now.

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10/25/2016 4:00 PM
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UNH $143.78 Down -0.91 -0.63%
UnitedHealth Group CAPS Rating: ****