Only four of the Dow Jones Industrial Average's (^DJI 0.60%) 30 components ended the trading session in the red today, as the blue-chip index rose more than 128 points. The main catalyst for the move higher today was the release of the Federal Reserve's minutes from its last meeting. These minutes made it clear that the Fed will only slow its quantitative easing programs once the jobs market dramatically improves. The promise of continued cheap money was enough for investors to push the Dow to an all-time closing high once again today. The Dow now rests at 14,802, after rising 0.88%.
Two of the four losers today were Wal-Mart and Travelers, which lost 0.96% and 0.54%, respectively, this afternoon. This morning I touched on a few reasons for the declines. To read about those companies, click here.
After releasing mixed earnings after the market closed on Monday, shares of Alcoa (AA) fell 0.95% today. My fellow colleague John Maxfield pointed out earlier today that the aluminum giant is now the most shorted Dow component. Currently 6.47% of the float has been sold short by investors speculating that the stock still has room to move lower. While this is not a particularly positive thing for the company, it's really not all that bad, either. But what is a negative sign is that, according to John, the company's earnings per share have fallen 44% since the financial crisis began. Alcoa also takes the No. 1 spot for this metric when compared with the other 29 Dow components.
Shares of ExxonMobil (XOM 2.01%) lost 0.1% of their value today, after a Morgan Stanley analyst changed the stock's rating and gave investors a better option. Exxon was cut from an "equal weight" rating to an "underweight" rating this morning, in addition to having its target price cut from $90 per share to only $85. The new target price would indicate that shares are worth less than their current price of $88.68.
Morgan Stanley also stated that Exxon competitor and fellow Dow component Chevron (CVX 1.60%) will outperform Exxon by 55% over the next five years. Furthermore, Morgan Stanley slapped a price target of $135 per share on Chevron. Reports have cited that higher production growth and improving returns will give Chevron an advantage in the long run.
While the analyst may be correct, the call is a little late. Shares of Chevron have already risen 10.63% year to date, while Exxon's stock is up only 2.46% in 2013.