Pfizer Defies the Dow's Dreary Day

The Dow is down slightly on a lack of substantive news. As of 1:20 p.m. EST, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) is down 27 points, or 0.2%, to 13,966. The S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC  ) is down 0.12% to 1,516.

There were no U.S. economic releases today, and the Asian markets are closed for the Lunar New Year. While trying to guess why the markets do what they do on a day filled with news is a fool's game, it's fun to see how people explain the market's moves on a day with no news.

Here are some theories for why the market is down today:

  • Traders in New York City and hedge fund managers in Connecticut are weary from this weekend's heavy snowfall.
  • The Pope announced his resignation, citing his declining health.
  • Goldman Sachs cut its rating for global equities from "overweight" to "neutral" with a time horizon of three months. For a 12-month period, though, Goldman Sachs is maintaining its "overweight" rating on global equities.

In any event, a 0.2% move is not worth much thought. There are, however, a couple of major events taking place this week that many expect to move the markets.

  • The Department of Commerce reports January retail sales on Wednesday, and economists are predicting no growth, as earlier economic reports have showed a slowing economy. January is also the first month when workers had to pay a 50% higher payroll tax, which should lower consumer spending. A surprise either way could move stocks.
  • Asteroid 2012 DA14 is expected to narrowly miss Earth on Friday. Scientists expect the asteroid to pass by Earth without incident, and they see its passing as a rare opportunity to learn about asteroids. Let's hope they triple-checked their calculations!

Today's Dow leader
Today's Dow leader is Pfizer (NYSE: PFE  ) , up 1% to $27.16, just $0.68 off its 52-week high of $27.84. On Feb. 1, Pfizer did an initial public offering for its animal health business, which is now its own company, named Zoetis (NYSE: ZTS  ) . The IPO was for $2.2 billion and was the largest IPO since Facebook hit the market last May. Pfizer put about 20% of the business on offer; it still retains the remaining 80%. It plans to spin off the rest of its stake to its own shareholders at some point in the future.

The spinoff was just one in a series of actions Pfizer is taking to transform itself into more of a pure-play drug-developer. The cash from the spinoff will be used to buy back shares and fund research and development, which Pfizer has been cutting as its revenue has dropped.

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