The Dow traded slightly lower on Thursday, but was still able to remain above the psychologically relevant, fundamentally irrelevant 15,000 level. One reason behind today's modest slump came from a speech given in New York by a high-ranking Federal Reserve official. He indicated that he wanted the central bank to start slowing its $85 billion per month bond-buying strategy by the next Fed meeting in June. Wall Street didn't like that, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) fell 22 points, or 0.2%, to close at 15,082, as 3M stock made its best effort to keep the index in the black.
Despite the pullback, shares of international conglomerate 3M (NYSE: MMM ) rose 1.6% today, outperforming all other blue chips. Though not an earth-shattering breakthrough, the company did just announce an improvement in its Masking Tape product line, which now comes at five different performance levels and price points. While innovations like these may be yawn-inducing, you can't argue with the results: 3M stock is up more than 25% in the last year, and pays a 2.4% annual dividend that's risen for the last 55 years. Sometimes boring is just fine with me.
E.I. du Pont de Nemours (NYSE: DD ) stock would be an excellent study in inertia: the concept that an object in motion will stay in motion unless acted upon by an external force. With no big news from the chemicals company today, it tacked on 1.2%, to post its third straight day of gains.
AT&T's (NYSE: T ) slip better epitomized the sentiment on Wall Street, posting a 1.3% loss after announcing what one would think was good news: the expansion into a new business. The telecom carrier is expanding into the prepaid wireless market, but it's doing so slowly, rolling out in just three cities over the next year.
Lastly, the worst-performing Dow stock was JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM ) , which slipped 1.5%. The financial sector was the third biggest decliner of the day, so the bank didn't get much help there. Factor in the hot seat that CEO and Chairman Jamie Dimon finds himself in as the annual shareholders meeting approaches, and you have the recipe for a bumpy ride.
With over 50,000 products, 3M plays a role in making everything from computers to power cables. A long history of invention and innovation has driven the company to its wide reach, but a focus on operational efficiency may be hurting the creative culture that once created Scotch Tape and the Post-it note. A new leader has taken over and vows to return innovation to the forefront. Does this mean the stock will become more than a dividend, returning to its former glory as a growth stock once again? Find out whether 3M has what it takes to pull it off in The Motley Fool's comprehensive new research report on the company. Simply click here now to claim your copy today.