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.
After two straight days of triple-digit drops, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) limped into the weekend Friday, tallying its worst weekly decline of the year. The major themes of the week -- rising interest rates, anxiety over Fed tapering, and political unrest in Egypt -- remained issues for Wall Street today, and the Dow shed 30 points, or 0.2%, to end at 15,081. The benchmark index has lost more than 340 points in the last five trading days.
Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) investors, however, bucked the trend, and bid up shares in the PC maker 1.8% today, seeing yesterday's severe 4.5% decline as a buying opportunity. A contrarian mind-set, like the one exhibited by HP's rise in the face of bearishness today, is an invaluable and rare virtue that disciplined long-term investors often use to their advantage. After all, it's not easy to remain steadfastly upbeat when every other headline about HP bemoans the death of the PC.
Shares of Boeing (NYSE:BA) also caught a break Friday, gaining 0.7%, as the aerospace giant pawned off responsibility for defective fire extinguishers aboard several Dreamliner models on a supplier. The company has dealt with a spate of safety-related concerns this year, starting with a fire on an unoccupied Dreamliner plane back in January. Despite a few setbacks, Boeing has proven its capacity to thoroughly investigate and remedy potentially worrisome issues, a feat that's earned shareholders more than 35% this year.
Two of the Dow's top five dividend-paying stocks led the index lower Friday. Drug maker Pfizer (NYSE:PFE), which boasts a 3.4% annual yield, lost 1.5% today, as interest rates continued their pronounced rise. High-dividend stocks are more vulnerable to rising rates because income investors tend to shy away from excessive risk; they prefer a much higher annual payout to compensate for the risk of the stock market. With bond rates rising, the allure of investing in these dividend mainstays fades for some.
Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ), which shells out a 4.3% annual dividend, shed 1.7%, leading all Dow decliners. Sure, interest rates rose again today, but Wall Street's bearishness on Verizon Friday reveals how blindly markets can move; the telecom just won a cloud hosting contract from the government that could be worth up to $1 billion over the next decade.