Investors hate uncertainty. That's never been clearer than it was today, when investors looked to President Obama's press conference for guidance on how negotiations about the fiscal cliff might go. At around 2 p.m. ET, when it became clear that politicians are in for a long, protracted fight, the market started falling. By the close, the Dow Jones Industrials (DJINDICES:^DJI) were down 185 points, and the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) and Nasdaq fell similar percentages.
The only Dow stock to survive the carnage was Cisco Systems (NASDAQ:CSCO), which jumped almost 5% after having been up even more earlier in the day. A favorable earnings report and decent guidance for 2013 gave investors the confidence they needed to get into the stock. Nevertheless, shareholders shouldn't get too excited, as the stock is still trading near levels it saw in late 2008.
Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) didn't avoid losses, but its share price dropped by only a penny. The resilience is particularly impressive in light of rival Lenovo's saying that it expects to increase operating margins by 50% in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. In the past, a big threat to HP's share of the PC market might have led to a substantial drop for the stock, but now, investors seem more focused on initiatives beyond PCs to provide growth for the company going forward.
Finally, beyond the Dow, Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) soared 12.5%. Despite a lockup expiration on the largest block of shares yet for the company, investors were more than happy to pick up shares of the social-media giant, with more than 225 million shares changing hands. Although many still have doubts about the company's long-term plans, it's clear that buyers were ready to pounce on the newly available Facebook shares.