Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

Strong earnings news from Nike (NYSE:NKE) and decent economic data couldn't overcome the cloud of uncertainty Washington is sending toward Wall Street today and major stock indexes are moving lower. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) has lost 0.56% of its value late in trading, while the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) is down 0.51%.

While the government back-and-forth is troublesome and sometimes exhausting for observers, there was some significant news about two of the Dow's best-known companies today.

Nike joined the Dow this week and has already made a splash with its fiscal third-quarter earnings. The company reported an 8% jump in revenue to $6.97 billion during the quarter, and earnings per share jumped 54% to $0.86 -- a dime above Wall Street's estimates. As fellow Fool Alex Dumortier pointed out last night, the interesting trend is that Nike has seen strong growth in Europe and North America and negative growth in China. That's exactly opposite to what you might expect, although it says a lot about the strength of U.S. consumers at the moment. For the day, Nike's stock has risen 4.5%.  

The other big mover to the upside is Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), simply on speculation that Ford CEO Alan Mulally could become the company's next chief. Mulally has done a masterful job at Ford after spending 37 years at Boeing. It's no surprise that investors would be excited about a leader like Mulally but the reality may not be as good as the idea. He has spent his entire career with industrial manufacturers and at age 68 he's not a long-term solution for Microsoft. Speculation can be fun but I don't think the pop in Microsoft's shares make a lot of sense long term, whether Mulally is a serious candidate or not.  

Fool contributor Travis Hoium manages an account that owns shares of Microsoft. The Motley Fool recommends Ford and Nike. The Motley Fool owns shares of Ford, Microsoft, and Nike. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.