Today was a good day for the stock market, as overall optimism about the prospects for a fiscal cliff resolution combined with the belief that the Federal Reserve will take yet more action to provide as accommodative a monetary stance as possible to make investors bullish. The Dow Jones Industrials (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) finished up for the fifth straight trading day, rising 79 points by the close.
But not every Dow component managed to join the party. Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT ) was the big loser of the day, falling about 1.7%. The company faces scrutiny from the Indian government after disclosing that Wal-Mart spent millions lobbying members of the U.S. Congress to open doors to foreign markets, including India. With the emerging nation's reliance on small store owners, India is concerned that similar lobbying efforts may have taken place there, although Wal-Mart has denied the claims. A poor report from Dollar General also cast a shadow on the entire discount-retail segment.
Bank of America (NYSE: BAC ) dropped half a percent. The bank found itself in the basement in the annual release of the American Customer Satisfaction Index, which measures experience with checking and savings accounts as well as personal loans. That left B of A's level at a 10-year low and shows a bit of the challenge that the bank will face in competing with its rivals in the future.
Home Depot (NYSE: HD ) finished down 0.2%. As Fool contributor Alex Planes noted earlier today, a rebound in the housing market has helped push the home-improvement retailer to new highs, but high valuations may be leading some shareholders to lock in profits in advance of capital-gains tax rates rising in 2013.
Finally, Cisco Systems (NASDAQ: CSCO ) fell by a penny. The tech giant isn't among the many companies that have declared special dividends this year, and despite its huge cash holdings, it appears increasingly unlikely that Cisco will reward shareholders with a big payout. With the company having already raised its dividend substantially earlier this year, its main focus now should be on restoring growth to former levels.
Bank on this
The Dow gets a substantial contribution from financial stocks, and collectively, those stocks have dragged down the Dow since the housing bust. But with banks in recovery mode, is Bank of America a buy right now? Find out in our latest in-depth research report on B of A, which details the bank's prospects and gives three reasons to buy and three reasons to sell. Just click here to get access.