After closing out last week with a bang on a strong jobs report, stocks lost momentum today, ending mostly flat. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI) finished down 10 points, or 0.06%. Trading volume was low as the slower summer season approaches, and investors seemed ambivalent after several sessions of trying to read the Fed's tea leaves. There were no economic reports released today, but Standard and Poor's raised the U.S. credit outlook to stable from negative, which means the chances of a near-term down grade are less than one in three. S&P notoriously downgraded the U.S. credit rating in 2011 in the midst of Congress's debt-ceiling debacle, but while that development shocked Wall Street, today's announcement was mostly greeted with a shrug.
UnitedHealth (NYSE: UNH) was the big winner on the Dow, gaining 1.8% as the insurance giant got an upgrade from Susquehanna Group, which bumped up its price target from $72 to $79. UnitedHealth also upped its dividend 32% last week to $0.28 a share, giving it a 1.8% yield. The quarterly payout has gone up by nearly 10 times from just $0.03 at the beginning of 2011. Uncertainty in the industry continues to surround the company but rewards investors with cash -- as always, an easy way to ensure the stock will maintain its value.
Intel (NASDAQ: INTC) shares also moved up strongly, gaining 1.7% as Apple said it would be using Intel's Haswell chips in future MacBooks as they help enhance battery life. The new chips are a cornerstone of Intel's strategy going forward, and the partnership with the world's foremost gadget maker is a strong vote of confidence for Haswell and could pave the way for similar deals.
Outside the Dow, lululemon athletica (NASDAQ: LULU) plummeted 13% after hours as the company said in its earnings report that CEO Christine Day would be stepping down once a successor was found. No reason was provided for Day's impending departure as she is far from retirement age, but the company's recent foibles with see-through yoga pants could have been one reason. Regardless, investors clearly weren't happy to hear she'll be leaving.
Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) also attempted to give Wall Street a bit of the magic it used to deliver, unveiling a music-streaming service called iTunes Radio and a new operating system that it's calling its biggest redesign since 2007. The streaming service, similar to Pandora's, will launch in the fall, while its new interface will include translucency, animation, and new colors. At the event, executives also showed off other Apple enhancements including new Macbook Airs, updated Siri voice software for the iPhone, and a new cylindrical Mac Pro desktop. Still, Apple shares finished the day down 0.7%.
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