U.S. stock markets had a hard time making up their mind today, as major U.S. indexes vacillated between positive and negative several times throughout the day. By day's end, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI) had gained 11.5 points to notch a 0.1% gain. However, this tells only a fraction of the story. Take a look at the Dow's up and down day.

Source: Google Finance.

In similar fashion, both the S&P 500 and Nasdaq swang back and forth throughout the day. At close, the S&P shed 0.1% and the Nasdaq lost a whopping 0.2%. In another sign of calm in the markets, the VIX (INDEX: ^VIX), often referred to as the market's "fear gauge," retreated 1.3% as well. However, there were plenty of stories driving individual stocks that investors should note.

Around the markets
One of the largest storylines weighing on individual stocks today was news from shipping-solutions giant FedEx (NYSE: FDX), which lowered guidance for its current quarter, citing weak economic performances from Europe and China as weighing on its business. Its shares closed down 2%. Market observers often view FedEx and its peer United Parcel Service (NYSE: UPS) as economic bellwethers, since their businesses cater directly to world trade. Like FedEx, UPS ended today 2.4% lower.

Today's major tech news sent shares of Finnish handset maker Nokia (NYSE: NOK) nearly 16% lower. The company unveiled the latest versions of two of its Lumia smartphones that the company hopes will help it gain traction in the booming smartphone market. Clearly, the market was unimpressed with Nokia's work today.

However, as ardent observers of the market, we see these kinds of swings more than really makes sense. The safest way to make sure you don't get sideswiped by the market's crazy spikes is to look beyond the day-to-day movements and focus on what you can really understand -- a company's long-term prospects. The Fool recently highlighted three of the top Dow dividend dynamos in a research report for our readers. You can grab it for free today, so get started.