For those who had hoped that Monday's market swoon was a one-time freak occurrence, today's drop of 138 points for the Dow Jones Industrials (^DJI 1.61%) came as a slap in the face for bullish investors.
On the one hand, Monday's themes of weak commodities prices repeated themselves, as oil prices fell another $2 per barrel and gold failed to extend its bounce from Tuesday. Yet technology stocks also fell sharply, with the Nasdaq falling nearly twice as sharply as the Dow as earnings reports from a key iPhone component supplier raised questions about whether Apple will be able to sustain its growth and sent Apple shares to their lowest levels since late 2011.
But even on a down day for the market, four stocks within the Dow managed to post modest gains. Three of them were consumer giants, with Johnson & Johnson (JNJ -0.09%), Coca-Cola (KO 0.36%), and Home Depot (HD 3.15%) all rising by about half a percent. For J&J, the gains piggybacked on yesterday's even bigger jump in the wake of the health-care conglomerate's earnings report, which featured strong growth from pharmaceuticals and over-the-counter consumer products. With a fairly strong pipeline holding the promise of future successes for its drug unit, Johnson & Johnson just needs to put some of its more troublesome quality-control lapses behind it and move forward.
Meanwhile, Home Depot rose in line with favorable views of the housing market, where the all-important spring listing season has taken hold. The season is also a key one for the home-improvement retailer, as lawn and garden-related purchases are a key driver of seasonal sales for Home Depot. With new home starts moving above the 1 million mark on an annualized basis in March, signs are looking good for Home Depot's continued success.
Coca-Cola's gains also come in the aftermath of a favorable earnings report. Analysts looked favorably on its decision to restructure its relationship with its bottlers to open up new opportunities for the beverage giant. The move could help Coke improve its profit margins, yet the company will still face the potential fallout from rising health-related concerns that have plagued it and its industry peers recently.
The other rising Dow stock was Intel (INTC 3.03%), which bucked the downward tech trend and gained a penny. Having already reported earnings, Intel saw the expected declines in PC-related revenue but gains for its data-center division and other more forward-looking business segments. The wild card for the company remains its mobile chips, but investors will have to wait to see how some of its planned products perform after they become available.