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.
This afternoon at 2 p.m. EDT, the minutes of the Federal Reserve's most recent meeting were released. Within the transcripts, it was clear that the Fed is ready to begin tapering its bond buying program from $85 billion a month, to a lower number, sometime in the near future. That caused the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) to fall lower by 105 points, or 0.7% today. The index now rests at 14,897, while the S&P 500 lost 0.58%, and the Nasdaq moved lower by 0.38%.
Only three of the Dow's 30 components moved higher today. Let's take a look at the three winners, and what caused them to buck the downward trend.
Shares of Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) increased by 0.44% today after the company's closest competitor, Target (NYSE:TGT), reported earnings this morning. Target reported weaker-than-expected revenue and earnings per share, as this quarter came in lower than the same time frame last year on an EPS basis, but a slightly higher sales number was reported. Furthermore, Target lowered its full-year expectations during a time when it seems the economy is getting better. This news indicates that Wal-Mart's recent earnings report perhaps wasn't as bad as investors made it out to be. Additionally, this indicates that perhaps the all-in-one discount retailer -- like Wal-Mart and Target -- is losing favor with consumers, as we recently saw Best Buy and TJX beat expectations. We also saw that it's not just Wal-Mart that is struggling in the U.S. market.
Shares of Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) rose higher by 0.35%. Housing data was released this morning that indicated that refinancing activity was down last week, but applications for new-purchase money loans rose 1% during the week. This was a great improvement from the previous week when we saw a 5% drop in that area, and an indication that, while it may no longer make sense for a lot of American's to refinance, many are still trying to buy homes. And as Bank of America continues to shift its focus toward mortgages and away from other forms of banking, this report is certainly seen as good news.
Lastly, shares of IBM (NYSE:IBM) increased by 0.16% after a federal appeals court ruled today that three major companies -- one of which was IBM -- could not be held liable in the U.S. for crimes which had been committed by South Africa's former government. The plaintiffs in the case accused IBM, Ford, and Daimler of facilitating decades of race-based crimes, like torture and killing, simply because some of their South African subsidiaries sold products to the government at the time these events were taking place. The judge ruled that a U.S. Supreme Court decision "plainly bars" these types of lawsuits.