All good things must come to an end, and at least for a single day, the market forgot about its euphoria over last week's Federal Reserve quantitative easing and gave up some ground. But the jury's still out on whether it means a true top in the market is in or whether we're just seeing a pause before further gains. Meanwhile, renewed concerns about the economy still weigh on the markets, helping to send the Dow Jones Industrials (INDEX: ^DJI) down 40 points today.
Looking at the Dow's gainers today, you can see some of the uncertainty that investors have about whether the rally can push higher from the fact that many of the companies that gained the most were more defensive names. For instance, Pfizer's (NYSE: PFE) nearly 1% gain appears to reflect optimism that the company can produce enough new blockbuster drugs to replace those that are going off-patent. Moreover, as Fool contributor Karl Loomes pointed out earlier today, Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE: GSK) are two of just a handful of companies tasked with developing a vaccine to fight MRSA, a deadly staph infection that kills thousands in the U.S. every year. Jumping on opportunities like this will be a key to Pfizer's long-term success.
Interestingly, though, Merck (NYSE: MRK) also joined Pfizer with a nearly 1% gain, despite having failed in its own attempt to solve the MRSA staph infection last year. Merck's rise in sympathy supports the idea that investors are rotating into less volatile names in an attempt to hold on to their gains.
Finally, AT&T (NYSE: T) and its 0.8% jump probably came from news over the weekend that iPhones sold out. With 2 million preorders, AT&T can count on its fair share of subscribers. If it can sign them up for lucrative new plans, then it could mean a lot of revenue for the mobile network giant for years to come.
Keep on winning
You want the best stocks you can get no matter which way the market moves. Focus on the stocks that will give you long-term wins by reading the Motley Fool's special report on the Dow, where you'll discover three promising Dow stocks with great prospects for the future. The report is absolutely free, so get your copy today.