Weekly Wrap-Up: Dow Jumps 1.5% on UnitedHealth, Microsoft Gains; Nike, McDonald's Lag

The Dow had a momentous week, overcoming a big shock from the Federal Reserve to climb more than 200 points. Learn what pushed it higher here.

Mar 22, 2014 at 11:00AM

The Dow Jones Industrials (DJINDICES:^DJI) had an interesting week, surviving geopolitical tension as well as some unexpected news from the Federal Reserve to climb higher. Despite a modest decline Friday, the Dow gained 237 points for the week, or roughly 1.5%, bringing the average to within 275 points of its all-time record close on Dec. 31 of last year. Helping to push the average up the most were UnitedHealth Group (NYSE:UNH) and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), while Nike (NYSE:NKE) and McDonald's (NYSE:MCD) were the biggest drags on the Dow last week.

UnitedHealth's 7.5% gain for the week came as investors have gotten greater confidence about the impact of the Affordable Care Act on the health-insurance industry. A report from the Kaiser Family Foundation generally found that despite all the new policy options under Obamacare, the net impact on market share among existing health insurers was relatively small, allowing UnitedHealth to maintain its leadership role in the industry. With the company having several competitive advantages over its peers, including its international exposure through its Brazilian Amil unit as well as its Optum health-services business, UnitedHealth stands ready to take advantage of changing conditions in the industry.

Microsoft soared more than 6.5% after the company announced that it would release a version of its Office software for the iPad. Optimistic investors pointed to the potential to recoup billions in missed revenue opportunities from making Office available to iOS users on the popular tablet, but perhaps the more important message is that Microsoft is taking aim at mobile from a different angle, and that could help bolster the company's staying power even as PC sales continue to weaken.

On the other side of the coin, Nike's 4% drop largely came Friday, in the aftermath of the shoemaker's Thursday-night earnings report. Despite solid results, Nike's guidance for the future was less confident than shareholders wanted to see, with the company pointing to headwinds from a strong dollar and varying levels of economic growth in its foreign markets. Since joining the Dow last year, Nike has had one of the average's highest valuations of any component, and this week's drop shows just how important it is for the company to sustain growth at the pace investors expect in order to keep its high share price.

Finally, McDonald's fell 2%. The fast-food giant has continued to make moves seeking to bolster its flagging growth, including new menu items like its Petite Breakfast Pastries and the possibility of extending its breakfast hours beyond their current 10:30 a.m. limit. But with headwinds like the recent drop in the value of the Chinese yuan, McDonald's initiatives might well prove insufficient to prevent further same-store sales declines in the future. In an ultra-competitive industry, McDonald's has to assume its leadership role and come up with game-changing moves rather than simply following the crowd.

Find the winners you need
It's no secret that investors tend to be impatient with the market, but your best investment strategy is to buy shares in solid businesses and keep them for the long term. In the special free report "3 Stocks That Will Help You Retire Rich," The Motley Fool shares investment ideas and strategies that could help you build wealth for years to come. Click here to grab your free copy today.

Dan Caplinger has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends McDonald's, Nike, and UnitedHealth Group and owns shares of McDonald's, Microsoft, and Nike. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't 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.

Money to your ears - A great FREE investing resource for you

The best way to get your regular dose of market and money insights is our suite of free podcasts ... what we like to think of as “binge-worthy finance.”

Feb 1, 2016 at 5:03PM

Whether we're in the midst of earnings season or riding out the market's lulls, you want to know the best strategies for your money.

And you'll want to go beyond the hype of screaming TV personalities, fear-mongering ads, and "analysis" from people who might have your email address ... but no track record of success.

In short, you want a voice of reason you can count on.

A 2015 Business Insider article titled, "11 websites to bookmark if you want to get rich," rated The Motley Fool as the #1 place online to get smarter about investing.

And one of the easiest, most enjoyable, most valuable ways to get your regular dose of market and money insights is our suite of free podcasts ... what we like to think of as "binge-worthy finance."

Whether you make it part of your daily commute or you save up and listen to a handful of episodes for your 50-mile bike rides or long soaks in a bubble bath (or both!), the podcasts make sense of your money.

And unlike so many who want to make the subjects of personal finance and investing complicated and scary, our podcasts are clear, insightful, and (yes, it's true) fun.

Our free suite of podcasts

Motley Fool Money features a team of our analysts discussing the week's top business and investing stories, interviews, and an inside look at the stocks on our radar. The show is also heard weekly on dozens of radio stations across the country.

The hosts of Motley Fool Answers challenge the conventional wisdom on life's biggest financial issues to reveal what you really need to know to make smart money moves.

David Gardner, co-founder of The Motley Fool, is among the most respected and trusted sources on investing. And he's the host of Rule Breaker Investing, in which he shares his insights into today's most innovative and disruptive companies ... and how to profit from them.

Market Foolery is our daily look at stocks in the news, as well as the top business and investing stories.

And Industry Focus offers a deeper dive into a specific industry and the stories making headlines. Healthcare, technology, energy, consumer goods, and other industries take turns in the spotlight.

They're all informative, entertaining, and eminently listenable. Rule Breaker Investing and Answers are timeless, so it's worth going back to and listening from the very start; the other three are focused more on today's events, so listen to the most recent first.

All are available for free at www.fool.com/podcasts.

If you're looking for a friendly voice ... with great advice on how to make the most of your money ... from a business with a lengthy track record of success ... in clear, compelling language ... I encourage you to give a listen to our free podcasts.

Head to www.fool.com/podcasts, give them a spin, and you can subscribe there (at iTunes, Stitcher, or our other partners) if you want to receive them regularly.

It's money to your ears.


Compare Brokers