Fed's Unexpected Decision Sends the Dow Soaring

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.

Big news from the Federal Reserve has stocks exploding higher this afternoon. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) has roared into the green after spending most of the day south of breakeven. As of 2:15 p.m. EDT the blue-chip index has gained more than 100 points. While Wall Street hit the gas after the Fed decision, a select few Dow stocks are spinning their wheels today after spending most of the morning saddled with sizable losses. Let's catch up on what you need to know.

The Federal Reserve makes a big move -- by doing nothing
First, the Fed: The central bank announced at 2 p.m. EDT that it will not taper its $85 billion-per-month bond buyback program, deviating from the expectation around Wall Street that stimulus would be slowing by the end of the year. In the short term, stocks are loving the move, as demonstrated by the Dow's big gains. Eventually, however, stimulus will have to end -- and when it does, the markets will go through the entire "will it or won't it" game all over again. Don't bet your portfolio on the Fed's moves, even as you keep an eye on them; investing for the long term is best.

Don't tell Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG  ) about the Fed's surprise, however, as this consumer icon hasn't had much to celebrate today. The stock is barely above breakeven so far after Barclays downgraded it from"overweight" to "equal weight."

Barclays is certainly on point with P&G's recent performance: The consumer stock is only up about 25% over the past two years -- gains that would thrill most investors, had several Dow stocks not posted similar gains since the beginning of 2013 alone. P&G's sales have slowed in major divisions, particularly at the company's beauty and grooming segments, whose sales slipped 2% and 4%, respectively, in the firm's most recent fiscal year. Together, the divisions make up more than 34% of the company's total revenue.

However, there is still a silver lining for P&G investors. The company's health care division has done well, posting 3% growth in each of the past three fiscal years. Consumer health isn't a major growth industry, but it is a stable one, particularly as America ages and the demand for health care solutions continues to rise. P&G will need that division to keep performing well as it looks to turn around its other businesses.

AT&T (NYSE: T  ) is also having a tough time on a lackluster day for the telecom sector. Shares of the company are up about 0.3% after spending most of the day in the red. The firm is reportedly looking to sell off its wireless towers for up to $5 billion, which could help it bring in the kind of cash needed to make a big splash.

But why the need for a move? Rival Verizon's play to take full control of Verizon Wireless will only give the country's top wireless company even more of a lead on AT&T in coming years. AT&T is already undergoing a $14 billion upgrade to its network and is looking to launch a sizable share buyback program as well. The sale won't reinforce AT&T's cash position fully, but it will add some firepower to the company's arsenal before it makes a move to keep up with Verizon.

Stick to the long term
The Fed's decision and the market's reaction is just another justification for the maxim of smart investors: 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.

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Related Tickers

9/30/2016 5:01 PM
^DJI $18308.15 Up +164.70 +0.91%
PG $89.75 Up +1.52 +1.72%
Procter and Gamble CAPS Rating: ****
T $40.61 Down -0.12 -0.29%
AT and T CAPS Rating: ****