Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over daily movements, we do like to keep an eye on market changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.
The stock market is trading lower today, but as often happens during long bull-market runs, today's move more closely resembles a mere pause in a longer-term trend than a decline motivated by news in its own right. With continued rises in bond yields and weakness in commodities like gold, stocks are mostly holding their own. As of 12:45 p.m. EDT, the Dow Jones Industrials (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) are down 57 points, but the broader market benchmarks have seen less significant declines on a percentage basis.
Intel (NASDAQ: INTC ) has suffered the biggest drop among Dow stocks, falling 1.4%, but one thing to note is that the stock went ex-dividend today. With a payout of $0.225 per share, that reduces the actual economic loss for shareholders to just a fraction of a percent. But more important for long-term investors is that the company didn't boost its dividend this quarter, maintaining it at the same level for the fifth straight quarter after having regularly increased payouts at least every four quarters since 2010.
Exerting a much larger point influence on the Dow is Travelers (NYSE: TRV ) , which has fallen 1.1%. With Berkshire Hathaway having posted strong earnings after the market closed last Friday, one takeaway from Warren Buffett's company was that it managed to avoid the rout in bonds that other insurers faced. Travelers, for one, saw a substantial drop in book value due to its bond-market exposure, and if rates continue to rise, it could lead to further declines in Travelers' book value.
Finally, ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM ) is down 0.9% as investors continue to react to weakness in big oil companies' profits. Integrated oil giants simply haven't been able to provide the growth that investors have seen from smaller, nimbler exploration and production companies, especially those that have concentrated on the more lucrative shale-oil and gas areas. Moreover, with tailwinds from refining operations starting to dissipate, investors can't be certain that Exxon and its large peers won't see even worse results in future quarters.