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.
As the Federal Reserve's policy meeting draws nearer and nearer, Wall Street is reverting to its "bad news is good news" market philosophy. Stocks added ground Friday, capping off the Dow Jones Industrial Average's (INDEX: ^DJI) second-best week of the year, as August retail data disappointed. Investors are hoping that signs of a stagnant recovery will force the Fed to taper its stimulus program slowly. With Intel (NASDAQ: INTC) stock also roaring 3.6% higher, the Dow gained 75 points, or 0.5%, ending at 15,376.
Intel's great day stemmed from an upgrade by Jefferies tech analyst Mark Lipacis, who boosted the stock's rating from hold to buy, while raising his price target by 11%, to $30 a share. Today's jump shows the remarkable influence analysts can wield over short-term stock prices; the chipmaker held a three-day developer conference this week that failed to materially affect shares. It wasn't until Lipacis applauded Intel's focus on the mobile market that the stock caught fire.
Yet another bullish prediction from a research outfit -- this time from Stifel -- was the main catalyst behind Disney's (NYSE: DIS) 1.8% jump Friday. It's doubtful many Disney shareholders are complaining this week, as shares in the entertainment giant rallied 8.6%. Despite the stock's recent run, shares could still be a solid long-term pickup: the company is buying back between $6 billion to $8 billion in stock next year, and with rights to the Star Wars franchise and a controlling stake in perennial cash cow ESPN, the force is strong with this one.
Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) shed 0.5%, ending as one of the day's lonely blue chip laggards. While the drop is hardly precipitous, investors can be forgiven for not piling into shares today. The company's recent quality control problems, highlighted by several product recalls, are garnering unwanted publicity. The two recalls this month, for Risperdal Consta and liquid Motrin, raise questions about J&J's ability to prevent such issues in the future.
Lastly, Alcoa (NYSE: AA) shares ended down 1% Friday. The aluminum producer must cope with the hit to its pride that will surely result from its looming exclusion from the Dow, set to take place at the end of next week. More directly related to Alcoa's business, however, is its feud with the London Metal Exchange, which is considering instigating rules to improve bottlenecks in the supply of aluminum, potentially driving prices down.
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