Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over daily movements, we do like to keep an eye on market changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.
Two straight days last week, the Dow Jones Industrials (DJINDICES:^DJI) advanced to new record highs. Yet today, the Dow broke that streak, giving back 46 points on what looked more like investor fatigue after a healthy record run, as market participants got another reminder from a Federal Reserve official that the bond-buying program that has pumped liquidity into the system at a trillion-dollar annual pace is likely to end soon. Even with the overall funk, positive earnings releases and some good economic data from the services sector helped minimize the stock market's losses.
Moreover, some stocks did quite well. UnitedHealth Group (NYSE:UNH) was the big gainer today, climbing about 1.5%. The health-insurance company has been at the center of controversy over the ongoing implementation of Obamacare, with U.S. Secretary of Health Kathleen Sebelius today saying that state-level leaders who oppose the law are using incorrect numbers in fighting against it. Given the complexity of existing conditions in the health-insurance market and the difficulty in comparing policies of different quality, numbers tell only part of the story, so such debates are likely to continue. The key for UnitedHealth, though, is navigating those debates to maintain a winning position no matter which side prevails. So far, the company has done well in achieving that goal.
Cisco Systems (NASDAQ:CSCO) was another winner, picking up about half a percent. A survey that the company released this morning said that executives are increasingly committed to video communications in order to link up professionals in different locations, with the vast majority of business leaders finding video as an important method of career-building, improving company efficiency, and attracting top talent. With Cisco continuing to pioneer business-quality video collaboration hardware and networking, the company hopes to keep benefiting from the trend.
Finally, outside the Dow, Dendreon (NASDAQOTH:DNDNQ) picked up nearly 14%. With the company announcing earnings later this week, investors are clearly ramping up their speculation about whether the company's Provenge drug will see improved sales this quarter and whether European regulators will approve the drug in potentially lucrative overseas markets. With the prostate-cancer treatment having thus far been somewhat of a disappointment, any signs of coming increases in sales volumes will be welcome news for beaten-down shareholders.
Fool contributor Dan Caplinger has no position in any stocks mentioned. You can follow him on Twitter: @DanCaplinger. The Motley Fool recommends Cisco Systems and UnitedHealth Group and owns shares of Dendreon. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.