The Dow is down slightly on a lack of substantive news. As of 1:20 p.m. EST, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) is down 27 points, or 0.2%, to 13,966. The S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) is down 0.12% to 1,516.
There were no U.S. economic releases today, and the Asian markets are closed for the Lunar New Year. While trying to guess why the markets do what they do on a day filled with news is a fool's game, it's fun to see how people explain the market's moves on a day with no news.
Here are some theories for why the market is down today:
- Traders in New York City and hedge fund managers in Connecticut are weary from this weekend's heavy snowfall.
- The Pope announced his resignation, citing his declining health.
- Goldman Sachs cut its rating for global equities from "overweight" to "neutral" with a time horizon of three months. For a 12-month period, though, Goldman Sachs is maintaining its "overweight" rating on global equities.
In any event, a 0.2% move is not worth much thought. There are, however, a couple of major events taking place this week that many expect to move the markets.
- The Department of Commerce reports January retail sales on Wednesday, and economists are predicting no growth, as earlier economic reports have showed a slowing economy. January is also the first month when workers had to pay a 50% higher payroll tax, which should lower consumer spending. A surprise either way could move stocks.
- Asteroid 2012 DA14 is expected to narrowly miss Earth on Friday. Scientists expect the asteroid to pass by Earth without incident, and they see its passing as a rare opportunity to learn about asteroids. Let's hope they triple-checked their calculations!
Today's Dow leader
Today's Dow leader is Pfizer (NYSE:PFE), up 1% to $27.16, just $0.68 off its 52-week high of $27.84. On Feb. 1, Pfizer did an initial public offering for its animal health business, which is now its own company, named Zoetis (NYSE:ZTS). The IPO was for $2.2 billion and was the largest IPO since Facebook hit the market last May. Pfizer put about 20% of the business on offer; it still retains the remaining 80%. It plans to spin off the rest of its stake to its own shareholders at some point in the future.
The spinoff was just one in a series of actions Pfizer is taking to transform itself into more of a pure-play drug-developer. The cash from the spinoff will be used to buy back shares and fund research and development, which Pfizer has been cutting as its revenue has dropped.
Learn to protect your portfolio
Are you at ease...or nervous? It's been a great five-year run for investors, with the Dow and S&P at or near all-time highs. Yet fears abound. When will the next downturn hit? Will political gridlock lead to portfolio-killing inflation? To learn how to protect your portfolio, click here for free guidance from the Motley Fool Pro Academy!