At the halfway point of the trading day, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) was down 12 points (-0.09%) to 13,010. The S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) was up 4 points (0.31%) to 1,414.

The two U.S. economic releases that came this morning were mixed for stocks.





Personal Income




Consumer Spending




Source: MarketWatch U.S. Economic Calendar.

The Commerce Department reported that personal incomes were flat month over month, largely because of Not-That-Super-Storm Sandy. Economists had expected a slight 0.2% growth. Consumer spending was also affected by the storm, with a 0.2% decline month over month -- far below last month's growth of 0.8% and below analyst expectations of 0.1% growth.

The real story that the market is concerned about, however, continues to be the fiscal cliff, and unfortunately there's nothing really new to report. Yesterday, Obama made an opening proposal, which the Republicans rebuffed, with House Speaker John Boehner saying, "The White House has to get serious." The fiscal cliff talks will likely go right up to the deadline. With no new news on the fiscal cliff, the markets are relatively unchanged. Some analysts are also pointing to unicorns and fairies as the reason the markets are unchanged, as good a guess as any. Some stocks are trying to get the Dow to finish the day up -- here are the top two.

Today's Dow leaders
Leading the Dow today is Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT), up 1.17% ($0.83) to $71.66. Many companies are taking advantage of the low tax rates on dividends, which will likely change next year. While many companies are paying special dividends, Wal-Mart decided that instead of a special dividend, it would move its regular quarterly dividend from early January to late December. The retailing behemoth reported earnings on Nov. 15, which met analyst expectations. However, the stock was down 4% that day as the company lowered its guidance for the fourth quarter. The stock has recovered, however, as Wal-Mart put up a solid performance over the Black Friday weekend. Analysts hope the momentum from its early holiday successes carry the retailer through the rest of the holidays.

Coming in second for the day is Intel (NASDAQ:INTC), up 0.98% ($0.19) to $19.72. Intel has been jumping around as of late. Last week, the stock fell as the company announced that its CEO of eight years, Paul Otellini, will step down in May, two years before he reaches Intel's mandatory retirement age of 65. The stock dropped almost 4% on the news.

The stock stepped up 1 percent earlier in the week after Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) announced that it would begin selling today a new 21.5" iMac and a new 27" iMac in December. Both these products will include Intel processors. Then yesterday two analysts cut their earnings estimates for Intel, causing the stock to drop 3%. Today the stock is slowly rising again as investors find its high dividend yield of 4.5% to be a compelling opportunity.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.