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You can be sure that the next few weeks will see plenty of activity on Wall Street, as earnings season gets into full swing. While markets eased higher today partially due to Citigroup's beat, the main reason the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) edged higher Monday was due to the performance of just a few blue chip mainstays. Although 60% of its components actually fell today, the Dow managed to add about 20 points, or 0.1%, to end at 15,484.
The Dow is a price-weighted index, the top nine stocks with the highest share price (not largest market capitalization) account for about 50% of the benchmark's movements on any given day. Boeing (NYSE: BA ) happens to be the fourth heaviest-weighted blue chip, so its 3.7% jump today helped the average big time. Shareholders breathed a little easier after early investigations indicated that Friday's fire on a Boeing 787 was unrelated to the plane's battery. The company grounded its 787 Dreamliners for a while earlier this year after a January fire proved to originate in the battery.
Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT ) gained 1.4% Monday after reports that it will be entering the nascent "smartwatch" market, an area some of its most intense competitors are investing in. Uncharacteristically for Microsoft, the tech giant may have been too ahead of its time when it attempted to make a smartwatch nearly a decade ago. While the software company was wildly successful in the '80s and '90s, the company hasn't made many remarkable innovations this side of the century mark.
While ending as the third-biggest blue chip gainer Monday, International Business Machines (NYSE: IBM ) is far and away the stock with the most ability to move the Dow. Singlehandedly responsible for nearly 10% of the index's movements, IBM's 1% advance today helped put the Dow firmly in the green. With the IT bigshot's second-quarter report set to come out Wednesday, Big Blue may continue to dictate the mood of the markets this week; analysts expect profits to grow between 5% and 6%.
Lastly, Walt Disney (NYSE: DIS ) lost 1.6%, leading all Dow laggards. The California-based entertainment powerhouse sure hasn't acted like a powerhouse recently. Namely, the summer debut of the Johnny Depp-led The Lone Ranger has been a massive disappointment. The project, which cost about a quarter billion dollars to make, has made just over $70 million domestically in its first two weeks.
The best investing approach is to choose great companies with competitive advantages -- most Dow components have some powerful competitive advantage -- and stick with them for the long term. The Motley Fool's free report, "3 Stocks That Will Help You Retire Rich," names stocks that could help you build long-term wealth and retire well, along with some winning wealth-building strategies that every investor should be aware of. Click here now to keep reading.