The Dow Climbs As Pfizer and AT&T Lift the Market

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  ) got a little closer to getting back to all-time record territory this morning, with gains of about 47 points as of 10:45 a.m. EDT. Mixed news on the economic front, combined with anxiety about the Federal Reserve's Open Market Committee meeting today and tomorrow, didn't hold stocks back, as positive news from Pfizer (NYSE: PFE  ) and AT&T (NYSE: T  ) gave the markets a lift.

Pfizer gained 1.5% as the drug giant reported its third-quarter earnings results, sending the stock to a new nine-year high. Sales of its former blockbuster drug Lipitor continued their recent fall after the drug lost its patent protection, but gains in sales of other popular drugs helped Pfizer limit its overall revenue decline to 2%. Adjusted earnings came in above expectations, and Pfizer also raised its guidance for the year.

For AT&T, today's nearly 2% gain came after the Federal Communications Commission approved a deal between AT&T, Dish Network (NASDAQ: DISH  ) , and other smaller wireless companies to provide access to help broaden the availability of certain spectrum bands to more carriers. Interoperability among different carriers might seem to be a negative for AT&T, but the deal will be especially helpful for carriers in rural areas that could benefit from the strong signals available in the spectrum band in question. Given that the government has repeatedly put pressure on AT&T and rival Verizon (NYSE: VZ  ) in favor of competitors, AT&T's voluntary move could actually prevent more restrictive regulation.

More broadly, the Dow reacted favorably to a jump in single-family home prices of 0.9% in August and an unexpected decline in inflation at the wholesale level that thwarted economists' calls for a sizable increase. Even though more troubling news from falling retail sales and a drop in the Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index pointed to a more pessimistic assessment of the economy, the Dow's gains likely reflect the belief that the Fed will once again hold off on reducing its bond-buying activity until the economy reaches a more even keel.

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