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.
July's numbers from the Department of Commerce this morning indicated that core retail sales posted their best gains since the start of 2013. That news may have caused the markets to fall this morning, as investors worried that the positive economic data may push the Federal Reserve to begin tapering its bond-buying program, but the fear soon wore off, and all the major indexes closed higher today. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) gained 29 points or 0.19% and now sits at 15,449, while the S&P 500 increased by 0.16% and the Nasdaq rose 0.12%.
This afternoon, three of the 14 Dow losers lost more than 1% (Microsoft down 1.26%, Verizon down 1.01%, and Alcoa down 1.33%), while five of 16 winning components increased by more than 1%. One of them climbed more than 2%: Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ ) , which finished up 2.09% after upgrades from two analysts this morning. So maybe we can say a 1% gain from each upgrade?
Jim Suva from Citigroup said the ongoing turnaround at HP and his belief that the company will beat earnings next week will help push the stock higher, while Katy Huberty at Morgan Stanley thinks the company is poised to realize strong gains from the IT market and its cost reduction efforts.
Shares of HP are up more than 90% in 2013, and the company is easily the best-performing Dow component this year, but investors thinking about jumping in may want to take it slow. As we've seen with other companies in the past, if the turnaround attempt falters or the company reports a worse-than-expected quarter, and investors lose confidence, shares will quickly fall.
Boeing (NYSE: BA ) , meanwhile, increased by 1.91% today as nothing but good news flowed in. First, the company delivered its first Next-Generation 737-800 to Iraqi Airways, marking the the first in a 30-plane order that Iraqi Airways placed back in 2008. Boeing also a boost after Spirit AeroSystems CEO said Boeing could increase production of its 737s by 12% later this year. That would be great, considering Boeing currently has a backlog of more than 3,400 of that model. Increased production would greatly help the company boost revenue and lower its customers' wait times, which hasn't yet become an issue for the company, but it could lead to problems if rival Airbus could promise faster delivery times.
United Technologies (NYSE: UTX ) also saw its shares climb more than 1% today, despite the announcement that the company's jet-engine maker Pratt & Whitney was laying off 400 workers. Just last month, the unit had 575 employees agree to retire as part of a voluntary separation agreement, and 350 salaried workers were let go in January. Last month, United Technologies said the cuts are necessary as military operations in the Middle East wind down and uncertainty in the commercial-jet spare-parts business has led management to lower costs. United Tech previously told federal regulators it would reduce its workforce by 3,000 employees in 2013, which means that even with today's cuts, the company isn't even halfway there yet.
The other two 1% movers today were Johnson & Johnson, which was up 1.1%, and UnitedHealth Group, which rose 1.33%.
But just because a stock was a winner today, that doesn't mean it always will be. The best investing approach is to choose great companies 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.