Happy New Year, folks. After a relatively quiet end to 2011, investors rang in 2012's first week of trading not with a bang, but rather with some respectable gains in the broad indexes. The Dow Jones Industrial Average
This week saw some key macro storylines both improve and remain worrisome. On the plus side, U.S. payroll numbers came out better than expected, increasing by 200,000 at a time when the consensus expectation called for growth of only 150,000 and pushing unemployment in the States to its lowest level in three years. The rate dropped to 8.5%, down from 8.7%.
In other news, Europe remained embroiled its debt-driven fiasco. Interest rates on Italian bonds rose again above the crisis level of 7%, prompting the European Central Bank to begin purchasing Italian debt in the open market. Market observers maintain that interest rates of 7% or higher are largely unsustainable and could lead to more serious trouble if not dealt with in due course.
The back of the pack
If we define a clear loser as a stock that dropped by 2% or more, the Dow had only one for the week: Verizon Communications
Rounding out the week's three biggest losers was beverage stalwart and Buffett darling Coca-Cola
Although investors always need to remain vigilant and informed about the storylines driving their favorite stocks, panicking about a one-week drop can also turn counterproductive, and quick. Here at the Fool, we're all about investing for the long term, which can certainly involve enduring the short-term ups and downs. If you're looking for another stock The Motley Fool thinks has all the makings of a long-term winner, check out our special free report: "The Motley Fool's Top Stock For 2012." It's totally free to our readers, and the stock is hand-picked by TMF's chief investment officer. This pick won't be around forever, so access your free report today.