The Dow Jones Industrial Average
Disney was the big winner of the 30 Dow components, up nearly 2% after Lazard Capital Markets upgraded Disney from "neutral" to "buy." The firm cited ESPN's dominant position and the media conglomerate's momentum in children's entertainment as reasons for upping its price target to $53. Disney closed near $44 Friday. The upgrade was welcome news for the Magic Kingdom after it took an expected $200 million loss on box-office bomb John Carter.
Computer maker Hewlett-Packard
Of the rest of the Dow stocks, only three -- Alcoa, American Express, and Intel -- dropped, all finishing slightly down. The Nasdaq also closed down 0.12% for the day with Apple weighing heavily, down 1.7%.
Looking ahead to the next earnings season, analysts predict flat bottom-line growth for the S&P 500 after a solid 6.1% increase in Q4 2011. In addition, the same report that showed consumer spending grew faster than expected told us that income barely increased, meaning the spending growth is unsustainable without a greater gain in wages. Spending growth looks even shakier when considering that savings rates are now at a two-and-a-half-year low. Finally, it's worth remembering the old "sell in May and go away" saw. Since 1950, the Dow has returned 7.4% annually between November and April but just 0.4% a year between May and October. The blue-chip index has been red hot since bottoming out in the beginning of October, up 24% in six months.
Alcoa will kick off a fresh earnings season on April 10.
Keep it going
For those following the daily swings in the Dow's blue-chip stocks, it's important to take these movements with a grain of salt. After all, The Motley Fool endorses a buy-and-hold mentality, one that focuses on strong companies that will pay off well into retirement for investors. For further advice on planning for the decades ahead, check out our recent special report, "The Shocking Cant-Miss Truth About Your Retirement." It has some great tips on maximizing Social Security, as well as how to make the most out of your IRA and 401(k). The report is free, but it won't be around forever. Get your copy.
Fool contributor Jeremy Bowman owns shares of Apple but holds no other positions in the companies in this article. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple and Intel. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of ExxonMobil, Intel, Apple, and Walt Disney, creating a write covered strangle position in American Express, and creating a bull call spread position in Apple. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.