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.
The Dow Jones Industrials (DJINDICES:^DJI) closed the day down 48 points, marking its third consecutive losing session. Once again, most market commentators pinned the losses on long-term concerns about the Fed's future actions, but it's hard to give that explanation much credence given the fact that the same concerns existed last week despite the Dow's big gains. Fed stimulus is directly linked to economic growth, and when investors feel good about growth, they often ignore the Fed's actions and bid stocks higher. Today just wasn't one of those days.
Several Dow components fared well despite the overall average's declines. Leading the way higher was Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), climbing more than 1.5%. News that Fujitsu would work with the tech giant's Japan subsidiary to provide 30,000 custom Windows 8 tablets to a life insurance company client marked one of the biggest corporate orders for the operating system, but given that the gains in Microsoft's stock didn't come until late in the day, it's more likely that today's jump was merely a bounce after the plunge in shares last month following its earnings report.
Fellow tech company Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) also found itself among winners today, gaining almost 1% as a Wall Street analyst raised his target price and earnings expectations on HP. Shareholders have already given CEO Meg Whitman free rein in her long-term restructuring efforts, largely ignoring the short-term focus that investors typically demand from public companies in their emphasis on quarterly results. It'll take time for HP to identify its best prospects, but what's getting clearer is that to succeed, the company will have to look much different than it does today.
Beyond tech, industrial leaders also did well. United Technologies (NYSE:UTX) climbed 0.8%, rebounding from its losses yesterday. With favorable prospects in the aerospace market poised to continue for years, the key for United Tech will be keeping itself at the center of the aircraft engine and components industry to take maximum advantage of the opportunity. As long as airlines keep buying airplanes, United Tech will likely fare well.
Finally, DuPont (NYSE:DD) rose 0.7%. The company finds itself in the midst of a transformation in the industry, as major players look to restructure their businesses to make the most of high-margin profit centers while deemphasizing more challenging segments. DuPont's recent move to consider selling off its Performance Chemicals unit is indicative of the shuffling of assets going on throughout the industry, and if its resulting concentration on agriculture pans out, it could mean big gains for DuPont shareholders.