For all intents and purposes, the Dow Jones Industrial Average
What's with the Dow's indecision?
The biggest news on the day came from shipping giant FedEx
Nucor followed suit by preannouncing that its third-quarter results are likely to be in the range of $0.30 to $0.35 a diluted share. That comes in below the $0.41 estimate of analysts polled by MarketWatch.com. The company pinned its disappointing performance on lower steel-mill margins and slowing economic growth both domestically and globally. It also noted: "Volatility in scrap prices, together with a combination of political and economic uncertainty in global markets that is beginning to affect steel buyer confidence, has also disrupted supply chain stocking levels."
Beyond these admittedly downbeat results, the one bright spot came in the form of a survey by the National Association of Home Builders. Known as the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index, the survey revealed that optimism is gaining traction among homebuilders. It climbed for a fifth straight month to its highest point in five years. Despite the positive momentum, however, it's important to note that a majority of homebuilders remain pessimistic about the current state of the industry.
Dow's winners and losers
Leading the way up was Kraft Foods
At the beginning of October, the well-known food company will split into two. One will retain its North American grocery business -- including brands such as Velveeta, Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, and Oscar Mayer -- and keep the Kraft handle. The other will house the company's lucrative international snack brands such as Oreo, Cadbury, and Trident Gum -- though neither offspring is sufficiently large to merit continued presence on the Dow.
Leading the way down, alternatively, was aluminum producer Alcoa
And second, Alcoa was one of the biggest beneficiaries of last week's Fed-induced pop. As a result, it's to be expected that traders are monetizing gains before setting out in search of new targets. I accordingly agree wholeheartedly with Fool Travis Hoium that investors shouldn't "look at today's oversized drop as anything more than a reaction from the recent run-up."
Investing in choppy waters
While the Dow ended the day right around where it began, it oscillated furiously between positive and negative territory before settling down. With a possible recession under way, an upcoming presidential election, and Europe still struggling to survive, investors would be wise to prepare for more volatility ahead. It's for this reason that I urge you to consider the inviolable stocks identified in our free report: "The 3 Dow Stocks Dividend Investors Need."
Fool contributor John Maxfield has no financial position in any of the companies mentioned above. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of FedEx and Nucor. 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. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.