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.
Proponents of the efficient-market theory believe the stock market incorporates all available information. Yet today's market move is a good argument against that theory. Troubles in Syria have been around for years, yet only now are investors starting to give the conflict much credibility. With geopolitical risk once again emerging as an ever-present threat after having been ignored by investors for months, stock markets have fallen sharply, with the Dow Jones Industrials (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) down 110 points as of 10:55 a.m. EDT.
But there are pockets of strength in the Dow, as some industries appear to be benefiting from the return of risk. Both ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM ) and Chevron (NYSE: CVX ) have posted modest advances for the day as both West Texas Intermediate and Brent crude futures rise between $2.50 and $3 per barrel today. So far, triple-digit oil prices haven't really played a major role in slowing economic growth, and both Exxon and Chevron could benefit from wider spreads between Brent and domestic crude. Although that spread is less than $5 right now, it's wider than the roughly $2 to $3 we've seen recently, and greater domestic production could once again push those spreads still higher.
Still, you'll find the real strength in commodities outside the Dow. Gold has continued its recent climb to $1,420 per ounce. After largely losing their role as safe-haven investments, precious metals have bounced sharply off their recent lows as investors focus less on the Fed's imminent monetary-policy moves to focus instead on protecting against the possibility of heightened international conflict. Those concerns have pushed SPDR Gold (NYSEMKT: GLD ) up 1.2% today to its highest levels since May, and several major gold-mining companies have enjoyed larger gains as investors once again flock to bet on the potential for a renewal of the long bull market in gold.
If you think gold has a chance to move higher from here, the obvious question is which stocks will benefit the most. We've got the answers for you in The Motley Fool's new free report, "The Best Way to Play Gold Right Now," which takes a critical look at the recent moves in the gold market and gives you some promising prospects for your portfolio. Click here to read the full report today!