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With the fiscal cliff is just days away, and Timothy Geithner warning Congress yesterday afternoon that the country will hit the debt ceiling on December 31, investors began the day in a selling frenzy, sending the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) down as much as 150 points at one time during the day. But when it was announced that Congress would work on Sunday, December 30, investors' optimism that a deal would come down to save the country from falling over the cliff managed to pull the Dow up from its lows, and close at a reasonable level.
The index closed the day at 13,096, down just 18 points, or 0.14%. And of the 30 stocks which make up the Dow, only six of them were in the green when the bell rang. This afternoon, I explained why Walt Disney (NYSE: DIS ) , Bank of America (NYSE: BAC ) , and JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM ) were in the red, and three of the index's biggest losers; to read about those companies click here. Or to read about three of today's biggest winners, which were International Business Machines (NYSE: IBM ) , Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT ) , and Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT ) continue reading below.
So why were they higher?
International Business Machines and Microsoft where two of the top three performing Dow components today, as shares moved higher by 0.4% and 0.37%, respectively. Both companies have had disappointing years, as their stock prices have only risen 4.8% and 3.8%, respectively, while the Dow is up 7.19% year to date. The saving grace for both companies, though, is that most investors view their dividend payments as strong as any other company in the market. Microsoft currently pays a 3.4% dividend yield and, although the stock price has only risen 3.8%, when these two numbers are combined, the company has actually beaten the Dow this year. IBM, on the other hand, just slightly missed the Dow's performance after factoring in the 1.8% dividend yield, but still has managed to beat the index a number of times in the past.
Although yesterday's report that holiday shopping only grew by 0.7%, and consumer confidence numbers which were released today fell from 71.5 last month to 65.1 this month, shares of a consumer-driven stock, Wal-Mart, rose by 0.29% today. In addition to those factors weighing on the stock today, its closet's competitors, Target (NYSE: TGT ) and CostCo (NASDAQ: COST ) both fell by 0.47% and 0.77%, respectively.
More foolish insight
To learn about two retailers with especially good prospects, we invite you to take a look at The Motley Fool's special free report, The Death of Wal-Mart: The Real Cash Kings Changing the Face of Retail. In it, you'll see how these two cash kings are able to consistently outperform, and how they're planning to ride the waves of retail's changing tide. You can access it by clicking here.