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.
With the zero hour for a budget resolution just days away, stocks sold off into the weekend as lawmakers failed to reach common ground Friday. If Congress continues its infighting into next week, the government could be forced to shut down nonessential operations this coming Tuesday, Oct. 1. No one really wants to see that happen, but it wouldn't be the end of the world -- fourth quarter GDP would only fall by 0.3% by some estimates.
The real doozy is the debt ceiling, which threatens to put the U.S. in default by Oct. 17 if the borrowing limit isn't increased. A disillusioned Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) fell 70 points, or 0.5%, to end at 15,258.
Nike (NYSE: NKE ) stock was certainly the bright spot in the index today, surging 4.7% after reporting a blowout quarter yesterday. Nike's been able to weather stiff competition from the likes of up-and-comer Under Armour in the past decade, despite the sleek underdog's stylishness and growing popularity. Nike stock hit an all-time high today as margins expanded and sales rose by nearly 8%.
Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT ) was the second standout in the index, jumping 1.5% on a report from tech site AllThingsD that Ford CEO Alan Mulally is a frontrunner to be the next leader of Microsoft. With Steve Ballmer set to vacate his position within the next year, the search for a new CEO is prominent in investors' minds, and Mulally has a polished track record in the business world that markets are clearly applauding.
As for the Dow's less impressive Friday performances, Intel (NASDAQ: INTC ) shares lost 1.8% today as word broke that the chipmaker's web-based TV service may require a partner to get off the ground. With the trend in television now biased toward on-demand viewing across devices, a move into the area could offer promising growth avenues for Intel, and it's no wonder that shareholders are disappointed that a web-TV service hasn't materialized this year as promised.
Lastly, Cisco Systems (NASDAQ: CSCO ) was the Dow's largest decliner, shedding 1.9% Friday. It's been a tough week for Cisco investors, who've seen the stock fall nearly 5% in the last five sessions. Today's sell-off follows a 2.7% stumble yesterday, sparked by comments CEO John Chambers made about the company's looming competitive threats. Among those threats was Amazon.com, a company not afraid to sacrifice margins for market share.
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