The government shutdown was the talk of the week on news outlets, but stock markets didn't react too harshly to dysfunction in Washington, D.C. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) fell 1.22%, which may seem like a lot, but in the grand scheme of things it's a pretty average weekly move. The Labor Department's highly anticipated employment report was delayed due to the shutdown, one of the first impacts investors could see and something we should expect more of as the shutdown drags on.
Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT ) led the Dow's winners this week, rising 1.8%. There were reports swirling that Microsoft is trying to put Windows on Android devices, something they may give away for free, but the bigger driver of the stock was a push to oust Bill Gates as Chairman of the Board. He's driven Microsoft's direction since its inception, but with Steve Ballmer stepping down and Gates due to sell his entire stake in Microsoft by 2018 through automatic stock sales, this may be a time for change. Even if the new CEO is a rock-star pick it would be tough to have Gates looking over his or her shoulder.
UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH ) rose 1.4% this week despite glitches with Obamacare's exchange launch. UnitedHealth isn't participating in every state exchange that it can, so the customers it may add from the new system will only be incremental. The bigger development may be that UnitedHealth Group's stock is doing well as Obamacare's largest initiatives are launched. The new requirements should lead to a higher number of customers for insurers and revenue should increase as well. There's a lot of unknowns about Obamacare, but it should be a long-term positive for companies like UnitedHealth.
Rounding out the top three stocks on the Dow, JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM ) was up 0.8% this week. CEO Jamie Dimon stepped down as the company's main banking unit's chairman, a sign that his power may be erroding. Dimon has been under fire to make changes, or even step down as CEO, because of the London Whale losses and multiple pending lawsuits. The company is reportedly preparing to pay $11 billion in penalties to settle state and federal lawsuits over how the company handled mortgage-backed securities before and during the financial crisis. That's not the end of the world for a company with $2.4 trillion assets on its balance sheet, but it's a big blow nonetheless. At this point, investors are ready to move on from Dimon and other distractions so the company can focus on rebuilding its reputation.
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