After today's 139-point plunge in the Dow Jones Industrials (DJINDICES:^DJI), it's scary to contemplate how the market would have reacted if the Federal Reserve hadn't given investors just about everything they could possibly ask for from central-bank policy. Even with assurances that the Fed stands ready to consider adding even more stimulus to the economy, the stock market started off the month of May by focusing on the Fed's statement that it sees more downside risk to the economy, despite some fairly encouraging economic data in recent months. Broader measures performed in line with the Dow, although small-cap stocks declined much more sharply, with the Russell 2000 falling more than 2%.
Even on the dour day, several Dow stocks bucked the trend, and rose. Disney (NYSE:DIS) climbed 0.6% to set a new all-time high on follow-through buying after a huge showing from its Iron Man 3 blockbuster in its opening weekend abroad. With the film not even showing in the U.S. until this Friday, Disney already has another huge hit, proving again that its acquisition of Marvel stands to pay dividends for the company well into the future.
Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) also rose about half a percent, as investors once again gravitated to the defensively oriented retail stock, which, in the past, has actually benefited from weak economic environments. The executive in charge of Wal-Mart's eCommerce unit told participants at a retail-investing conference that he sees his division as the next big growth driver for the retailer as it aims to stand up against Amazon.com and its persistent threat on the online-retail front.
Beyond the Dow, insurance-software maker Ebix (NASDAQ:EBIX) soared more than 10% after news that Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) had offered, through an affiliate, to take the company private in a deal worth $20 per share. Given the fact that shares closed at $20.60 today, investors apparently believe the offer is too low, and expect a bidding war for the company. Given the huge opportunity that Obamacare is giving Ebix to ramp up its business, shareholders are likely right to demand more for their stock.