1 New Component Holds the Dow Back

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.

"Is America losing its economic mojo?" Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank President Dennis Lockhart asked in a speech in New York, according to MarketWatch. "There is some evidence to the affirmative."

That consensus is what led the Fed last week to announce that it wouldn't begin tapering its $85 billion-per-month bond-buying program. In previous weeks that short-term outlook would have boosted markets, but as I have said before, you should ignore all of that. While many continue to watch the Fed's every movement for direction in their investing strategy, long-term investors should follow the real stories. Today the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) trading down 0.27% as of 2:45 p.m. EDT, is offering plenty of better headlines.

The new-look Dow
One of the biggest stories today is the official addition of Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS  ) , Visa, and Nike to the Dow; they replace Alcoa, Hewlett-Packard, and Bank of America. On its first day of trading as a component, Goldman Sachs is the Dow's biggest loser, trading 2.4% lower. It's been a rough day for financial stocks after reports surfaced that Citigroup would see weakness in trading revenue in its third-quarter results. That has made investors hesitant, as Goldman Sachs has a large trading operation as well.

Apple's iPhone 5c and 5s sold quickly this weekend. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Apple's still got it
Outside the Dow, I never fully understood the pessimism surrounding Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL  ) , which is why I happily bought plenty of shares months ago. Investors and analysts today are saying "Apple's still got it" after the tech giant announced that consumers had bought up 9 million new iPhones over the weekend. My take is, "Apple never lost it."

"The demand for the new iPhones has been incredible, and while we've sold out of our initial supply of iPhone 5s, stores continue to receive new iPhone shipments regularly," said Chief Executive Tim Cook in a press release.

In addition to the successful weekend of iPhone 5c and 5s sales, which have boosted the stock 4.7% today, more than 200 million users have downloaded Apple's iOS 7 operating software. The company reported that it expected fourth-quarter revenue to be "near the high end" of its $34 billion to $37 billion guidance. It also said gross margin would also come in near the top of its forecase range of 36% to 37% guidance -- all good news for investors.

Bright future for automaker investors
General Motors (NYSE: GM  ) and rival Ford have both been trading near 52-week highs this month, and for good reason. Vehicle sales in the U.S. continue to surge upward while interest rates stay low and the average age of vehicles remains at a record high. In addition, GM and Ford offer a much leaner, profit-churning operation than they did as little as five years ago. Consider that GM's operations in North America have a breakeven point estimated when seasonally adjusted annual rates reach roughly 10.5 million units. That's a huge improvement considering that six years ago GM wasn't profitable with SAAR figures topping 17 million. One reason for the change was GM's huge reduction in hourly labor cost, cut by more than one-third from $16 billion in 2005 to $5 billion now, according to Morningstar. I still believe GM and Ford investors have an increasingly smooth road ahead.

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