Tapering Begins, and Wall Street Loves It

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.

After months of speculation that the Federal Reserve and outgoing Chairman Ben Bernanke may begin tapering its $85 billion-a-month bond buying program, the bank finally pulled the trigger. After Bernanke's last Federal Open Market Committee meeting, the chairman announced that the members of the central bank have decided to cut its monthly asset purchases by $10 billion, to $75 billion a month. Wall Street wasn't expecting this right now, but investors were figuring that tapering would start sometime in early 2014. Therefore, this wasn't a major shock, and the major indexes all rallied higher, taking this move as a signal that the economy is improving. (To learn more about how tapering will affect you, click here.)

When the markets closed for the day, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) was up 292 points, or 1.84%, while the S&P 500 had gained 1.66% and the Nasdaq rose 1.15%. The only loser on the Dow today was Boeing, which lost 0.29%. To learn why the aircraft manufacturer fell today, click here, or continue on to see which components made big moves higher.

Heading into tomorrow's scheduled earnings release, shares of Nike (NYSE: NKE  ) jumped 2.33% today. There wasn't really one thing propelling the stock higher today, but the positive sentiment on Wall Street from the Fed announcement was certainly one catalyst. Traders may also be buying in ahead of a possible pop. The past two times Nike has reported, the stock dramatically rose as a result of the earnings statement. To see what analysts are expecting and what you should look for tomorrow from Nike, click here.  

Another Dow winner that can also certainly thank the Federal Reserve is Home Depot (NYSE: HD  ) , as shares popped 1.82% during regular trading hours today. With the Fed only slightly cutting back its bond-buying program and laying the groundwork for a slow, drawn-out unwinding of its quantitative easing policies, the housing industry should continue to benefit from lower-than-average mortgage rates. Even after the Fed announced that it was paring back its purchases, long-term Treasury yields hardly moved. The five-year rose from 1.49% at the start of the day to 1.52%, while the 10-year increased from 2.84% to 2.89%, and the 30-year inched higher from 3.87% to 3.91%. These small moves shouldn't affect mortgage rates enough to dramatically hurt the housing industry, and so Home Depot should continue to perform well.  

And lastly, the Dow's big winner of the day was 3M (NYSE: MMM  ) , up 3.36%. The move today follows a 2.92% increase yesterday, after the company made a few big announcements about its future. In addition to increasing its dividend by 35%, the company believes its previous estimates for growth were on the low end. Management increased its long-term revenue growth projection to 4%-6% while upping its earnings-per-share growth forecast to 9%-11%. This news certainly changed some investors' valuation models over the past two days, thus making the stock a buy in their minds. But with any forecast, investors should take these figures with a grain of salt and not as guaranteed results.

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