Late this afternoon, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke held a press conference that acted as a catalyst for the markets to push higher. The members of the central bank remain optimistic about the U.S. economy. They believe unemployment will drop to a range of 7.3% to 7.5% by the end of 2013, while projecting economic growth to fall somewhere in the range of 1.3% to 1.7%.
With that said, the Fed will keep buying bonds and will not raise interest rates until unemployment hits 6.5% or inflation rates climb to 2.5%. Thus, the cheap money train continues and investors jumped aboard. The broad S&P 500 index tacked on 0.67%, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq became the winning index of the day, after it closed higher by 0.78%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) gained 55 points, or 0.39%, and only six of the 30 blue-chip stocks ended the trading session lower.
This morning, I discussed the reasons why Caterpillar, JPMorgan Chase, and Verizon were in the red. Below, I talk about why the other three Dow losers were falling today.
Top Dow losers
Shares of Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HP) closed the day down 0.82% after trading in positive territory nearly the whole day. The late-day drop was likely related to the news that all of the company's board members had been re-elected. A number of activist investors and shareholders had called for them to be voted off because they sat on the board when Autonomy was purchased. HP recently wrote off more than $8 billion of the $10 billion that it had paid for the software company.
Shares of Boeing (NYSE:BA) ended the day down 0.16%. The drop may be coming from shortsighted investors who are reading into comments FedEx (NYSE:FDX) made this morning. The package delivery company will trim its flight capacity to Asia as customers use cheaper shipping options and not FedEx's lucrative air freight delivery service. Additionally, FedEx will retire some of its older, less-efficient planes as a way to cut cost.
The news would indicate that Boeing will likely not be receiving any new orders from FedEx in the near future, which would affect Boeing's short-term sales prospects. But the fact that FedEx will be retiring its older planes means Boeing will have the opportunity down the road to sell it the more fuel-efficient Dreamliner, if they ever get it working.
And the last of the Dow's losers today is UnitedHealth (NYSE:UNH), who saw shares fall by 0.29%. As new Medicare payouts and Obamacare are set to take effect in the coming year, the stock has not performed very well in 2013. Year to date, shares are only up 1.18%, making it the third worst-performing Dow component this year, and that comes at a time when the index itself is up 10.74% in 2013. But my Fool colleague Brenton Flynn believes this is one Dow stock with a solid dividend, which will likely continue to grow in the future.
More foolish insight