A mix of good and bad economic data couldn't get bears or bulls excited this week, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) rose a measly 0.12% from a week ago. On the plus side, fourth-quarter GDP growth estimate was raised to 2.6% and consumer confidence rose to the highest level since January 2008. But pending home sales dropped, and there's uncertainty about corporate profits heading into earnings season, so the market doesn't have much direction right now.
While there was a sense of apathy toward the market as a whole, there were some big winners among the Dow's blue chips.
ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM ) was up 3.6% this week as oil prices rose to $101.67 per barrel. There's been fear that if tensions between Russia and the U.S. increase, the company's multibillion-dollar investment in Russia's Arctic could be in danger. But that doesn't seem to be the case and it's in talks with Russia's OAO Rosneft to sell a stake in Iraq's Kurdistan region, increasing the ties between the two companies. For the time being, this oil giant is a hot stock.
Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO ) gained 3.2% this week after announcing a $1 billion plan to build out cloud services. The company thinks its relationship with businesses and security products give it an advantage over competitors such as Amazon.com, Microsoft, and others. This week's reaction seems more like a pop on mentioning "cloud" but it'll be a year or more before we see any fruit from this investment. Cisco just hopes it isn't too late to get into the game.
Rounding out the Dow's top three stocks was Chevron (NYSE: CVX ) , which was up 2.5%. This week, the oil giant announced it was granted exploration rights in Block A5 in Myanmar. The block is a 2.6 million-acre shallow water offshore plot, and Chevron owns a 99% interest and will be the operator. Asia is one of the few growth markets for oil right now, and winning a contract there will help drive production higher there.
3 stock picks to ride America's energy bonanza
Asia is where oil consumption is growing, but record oil and natural gas production is revolutionizing the United States' energy position and lowering imports. Finding the right plays while historic amounts of capital expenditures are flooding the industry will pad your investment nest egg. For this reason, The Motley Fool is offering a look at three energy companies using a small IRS "loophole" to help line investor pockets. Learn this strategy, and the energy companies taking advantage, in our special report "The IRS Is Daring You To Make This Energy Investment." Don't miss out on this timely opportunity; click here to access your report -- it's absolutely free.