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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.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) broke a five-day slump Thursday, although the threat that drove the index down in the first place still lingers, unresolved. The cloud of concern looming over Wall Street has its origins in Washington, where lawmakers are still deadlocked on the issue of the debt ceiling. If Congress can't agree to pay the country's debt, it could force a government shutdown come October 1.
Markets shrugged off the issue today, with stocks advancing on news of lower-than-expected jobless claims last week. The Dow added 55 points, or 0.4%, to end at 15,328.
Dow newcomer Nike (NYSE: NKE ) led the way, tacking on 2.1% Thursday, as investors bid the stock higher on hopes that the company's quarterly report this afternoon would bring good news. It turns out the quarterly report was chock-full of good news, as the apparel giant crushed earnings estimates, hauling in profits of $780 million in the period. The stock responded by surging nearly 6% after hours, hitting 52-week highs.
Verizon Communications (NYSE: VZ ) stock was also popular on Wall Street today, gaining 1.5%. The telecom sector is currently in a period of consolidation, with Verizon's $130 billion deal to gain full control of the Verizon Wireless business stealing the spotlight earlier this month. Now some analysts are suggesting the company spin off its wireline FiOS division to focus its operations and unload pension obligations.
On a bearish note, the two biggest Dow decliners both came from the technology sector. Intel (NASDAQ: INTC ) lost 1.2%, a day after the company decided to keep its quarterly dividend stagnant, at $0.222 per share. Although it's great to see a dividend perpetually on the rise, it's preferable to boost dividends cautiously -- when a company is forced to cut its payouts, its stock usually gets hammered as a result.
Lastly, Cisco Systems (NASDAQ: CSCO ) fell 2.7%, as the company's CEO, John Chambers, discussed Cisco's biggest competitive threats with Barron's. Chambers fingered "IT as a service," as well as Amazon.com's Web Services division as Cisco's major threats of the future. Investors didn't take well to the honesty, despite Chambers' assertive confidence in Insieme, a Cisco-funded operation that he believes will be a game changer in the data center markets later this year.
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