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.
Despite the weak factory orders numbers released this morning, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) managed to hold steady and even cautiously advance on Monday. Factory orders -- not including transportation equipment -- slipped 0.2% in September and 0.4% in August, signaling stagnant demand in the manufacturing sector. While that's true, these aren't the type of data most investors care passionately about. Plenty of companies have yet to report earnings, and with jobless claims and GDP set to come out later this week, there's a lot more to look forward to in the next few days. With that in mind, the Dow tacked on 23 points, or 0.2%, to end at 15,639 today.
Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT ) is one of the aforementioned corporate giants yet to report third-quarter results. Shares in the big-box retailer fared slightly better than the Dow today, adding 0.3%. Whether consumers are quite in the holiday shopping mood just yet or not, retailers like Wal-Mart are more than ready for the festivities. With six fewer days this year between Black Friday and Christmas Eve than there were in 2012, Wal-Mart is getting an early start on holiday deals. It's now offering sales through its website the retailer didn't previously have until after Thanksgiving.
Of course, retail is a wildly competitive area and Wal-Mart isn't the only player getting aggressive before even tasting the eggnog. Sears (NASDAQ: SHLD ) , which jumped 4.6%, is in marketing overdrive and going so far as to open its Kmart stores on Thanksgiving Day -- at six in the morning! Should you decide to skip dinner with your loved ones in lieu of shopping at Sears, however, you won't be permitted to run up unholy credit card bills until 8 p.m. EST. What has this world come to?
Lastly, shares of Greek shipping company DryShips (NASDAQ: DRYS ) soared 5.2% as investors bid shares higher ahead of an afternoon earnings report. Though DryShips ended up missing on earnings per share -- the company lost $0.07 per share, just below the $0.06-per-share expectations -- sales far exceeded forecasts, coming in 14% higher than the consensus. Unfortunately, the earnings miss still drove shares down in after-hours trading, and the stock was down more than 3% after the bell.
The death of Wal-Mart: Real cash kings changing the face of retail
While Wal-Mart is scrambling to adapt to a paradigm shift in the way the retail sector moves merchandise, other companies have been doing it for years. To learn about two retailers with especially good prospects, take a look at The Motley Fool's special free report: "The Death of Wal-Mart: The Real Cash Kings Changing the Face of Retail." In it, you'll see how these two cash kings are able to consistently outperform and how they're planning to ride the waves of retail's changing tide. You can access it by clicking here.