The Dow and S&P 500 Eye Fresh All-Time Highs at Midday: Is the Rally Back On?

Markets rise on mediocre but positive economic news, with Intuitive Surgical and Cisco leading the way.

Apr 1, 2014 at 12:11PM

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) continues to nudge higher today, and shortly before noon its 0.4% gain put the index within striking distance of the all-time closing high of 16,576.66 set on the last day of 2013. The S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) was also up 0.4% at lunchtime, hitting a record high of 1,884.60; it remains to be seen whether this new record will hold up for the rest of the day, as both indexes have been slipping from an early peak. The S&P's last record was 1,878.04 points, set in early March.


The big news today came from the Institute for Supply Management's factory-activity index, which continues to show expansion (a reading over 50) with a 53.7 reading for March, above February's result of 53.2. Markit's Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index fell to 55.5 in March from 57.1 in February, but that's still solidly in expansionary territory. Automakers Ford and Toyota both reported good monthly sales growth for March, with respective upticks of 3.4% and 5%.

The Dow's components are wavering between strength and weakness heading into the afternoon, with several trading near breakeven and 13 of the 30 components in the red. The Dow's early leader is Cisco Systems (NASDAQ:CSCO), which was trading up 1.9% at lunchtime, while Disney (NYSE:DIS) was hot on Cisco's heels with a 1.5% gain. Neither stock is trading on any real news, although Cisco Vice President of Corporate Technology Maciej Kranz  promoted the company's Internet of Things initiatives earlier this morning at a tech conference in Boston. Disney's Frozen recently became the top-grossing animated film of all time, and the entertainment conglomerate is also in the news for its acquisition of YouTube-native Maker Studios, which could cost nearly $1 billion if the deal's earn-out targets are reached. One of those news bites is noteworthy, but the other appears merely buzzworthy at first glance.


Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Approximately 300 of the S&P's 500 stocks were in the green today, and none was enjoying a bigger pop than robotic-surgery pioneer Intuitive Surgical (NASDAQ:ISRG). Intuitive's 8.2% gain is nearly double that of the second-best-performing S&P 500 component, and this pop does have good news behind it -- the FDA approved a new da Vinci surgical robot that is more advanced than earlier versions. Intuitive CEO Gary Guthart  was cited in the company's press release as saying, "The da Vinci Xi System's new overhead architecture means that multi-quadrant surgery can be performed without repositioning the system, an innovation long sought by surgeons who perform complex procedures."

This new da Vinci could result in "at least 575" new system sales, according to ISI Group analyst Vijay Kumar. That's no chump change for Intuitive, which has an installed base of roughly 2,585 da Vinci systems at costs ranging from $1 million to $2.3 million apiece, not including service agreements, accessories, and instrument costs.

Invest in the next wave of health care innovation
The Economist compares this disruptive invention to the steam engine and the printing press. Business Insider says it's "the next trillion dollar industry." And the technology  behind is poised to set off one of the most remarkable health care revolutions in decades. The Motley Fool's exclusive research presentation dives into this technology's true potential, and it's ability to make life-changing medical solutions never thought possible.  To learn how you can invest in this unbelievable new technology, click here now to see our free report.

Alex Planes holds no financial position in any company mentioned here. Add him on Google+ or follow him on Twitter @TMFBiggles for more insight into markets, history, and technology.

The Motley Fool recommends Cisco Systems, Ford, Intuitive Surgical, and Walt Disney. The Motley Fool owns shares of Ford, Intuitive Surgical, and Walt Disney. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not 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.

1 Key Step to Get Rich

Our mission at The Motley Fool is to help the world invest better. Whether that’s helping people overcome their fear of stocks all the way to offering clear and successful guidance on complicated-sounding options trades, we can help.

Feb 1, 2016 at 4:54PM

To be perfectly clear, this is not a get-rich action that my Foolish colleagues and I came up with. But we wouldn't argue with the approach.

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.

"The Motley Fool aims to build a strong investment community, which it does by providing a variety of resources: the website, books, a newspaper column, a radio [show], and [newsletters]," wrote (the clearly insightful and talented) money reporter Kathleen Elkins. "This site has something for every type of investor, from basic lessons for beginners to investing commentary on mutual funds, stock sectors, and value for the more advanced."

Our mission at The Motley Fool is to help the world invest better, so it's nice to receive that kind of recognition. It lets us know we're doing our job.

Whether that's helping the entirely uninitiated overcome their fear of stocks all the way to offering clear and successful guidance on complicated-sounding options trades, we want to provide our readers with a boost to the next step on their journey to financial independence.

Articles and beyond

As Business Insider wrote, there are a number of resources available from the Fool for investors of all levels and styles.

In addition to the dozens of free articles we publish every day on our website, I want to highlight two must-see spots in your tour of

For the beginning investor

Investing can seem like a Big Deal to those who have yet to buy their first stock. Many investment professionals try to infuse the conversation with jargon in order to deter individual investors from tackling it on their own (and to justify their often sky-high fees).

But the individual investor can beat the market. The real secret to investing is that it doesn't take tons of money, endless hours, or super-secret formulas that only experts possess.

That's why we created a best-selling guide that walks investors-to-be through everything they need to know to get started. And because we're so dedicated to our mission, we've made that available for free.

If you're just starting out (or want to help out someone who is), go to, drop in your email address, and you'll be able to instantly access the quick-read guide ... for free.

For the listener

Whether it's on the stationary exercise bike or during my daily commute, I spend a lot of time going nowhere. But I've found a way to make that time benefit me.

The Motley Fool offers five podcasts that I refer to as "binge-worthy financial information."

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. It's also featured on several dozen 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 ... and I don't say that simply because the hosts all sit within a Nerf-gun shot of my desk. Rule Breaker Investing and Answers contain timeless advice, so you might want to go back to the beginning with those. The other three take their cues from the market, so you'll want to listen to the most recent first. All are available at

But wait, there's more

The book and the podcasts – both free ... both awesome – also come with an ongoing benefit. If you download the book, or if you enter your email address in the magical box at the podcasts page, you'll get ongoing market coverage sent straight to your inbox.

Investor Insights is valuable and enjoyable coverage of everything from macroeconomic events to investing strategies to our analyst's travels around the world to find the next big thing. Also free.

Get the book. Listen to a podcast. Sign up for Investor Insights. I'm not saying that any of those things will make you rich ... but Business Insider seems to think so.

Compare Brokers