With earnings season officially kicking off today, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) fell by 55 points as investors wait to see how concerns over the fiscal cliff and other economic problems around the world affected companies' earnings during the fourth quarter. Over the next few weeks, investors will focus on what really drives the markets -- earnings and key financials, as opposed to what Washington is doing and whether Europe is falling back into a recession. Company earnings per share, revenue, margins, and a few other key financial numbers should be what long-term investors focus on when making investment decisions, not the noise from the daily market news stations.
Getting back to the Dow, the index closed the day at 13,328, down 55 points, or 0.41%. Of the 30 stocks that make up the Dow, 15 of them ended the day in the red. Three of the big losers this afternoon where AT&T (NYSE:T), Verizon (NYSE:VZ), and Boeing (NYSE:BA). Read about why those stocks fell today by clicking here. Or to read about three of today's biggest winners, which were Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ), Du Pont (NYSE:DD), and ExxonMobil (NYSE:XOM) continue reading.
So why were they higher?
Shares of Hewlett-Packard ended the day as the Dow's best performer again today, moving higher by 1.45%. The stock is up 8% year to date and is currently the best-performing Dow component in 2013. Even though we're only eight days into the New Year, being the best-performing stock is a big deal for Hewlett-Packard after it ended 2012 down nearly 50% for the year and was by far the worst Dow component during the year. With no positive news about the company thus far in 2013, the move higher is likely the cause of value investors' belief that the stock was battered too harshly during 2012 and that the long-term prospects of the business are still good. At this time,though, I wouldn't touch the stock.
Du Pont popped higher by 0.55% today, after competitor Monsanto (NYSE:MON) reported a great earnings report. Monsanto's genetically engineered seed business played a large role in helping the company push revenue and profits higher for the quarter. Investors probably believe Du Pont's seed unit will produce favorable results after seeing Monsanto's numbers this morning before the opening bell.
ExxonMobil rose by 0.6% today, after it was announced that a group of major oil partners led by Exxon will move forward with the Hebron oil field, which is located offshore from Newfoundland and Labrador. The project is expected to cost around $14 billion and won't produce oil till the end of 2017.
Matt Thalman has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of ExxonMobil. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.