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.
Stocks have fallen back from earlier highs in today's market session, but the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) has stayed in the green all day. As of 2:15 p.m. EDT, the Dow has picked up modest gains of more than 40 points. Most stocks aren't going anywhere fast today, but the majority of the Dow's blue-chip members are rising. Verizon (NYSE:VZ) has done the heavy lifting for the Dow today after news about a potentially huge deal sent shares of the telecom leader surging. Let's catch up on the stock action you need to know about.
Verizon and Vodafone get down to business
Verizon's shares are up 2.6% today to lead the Dow after Vodafone (NASDAQ:VOD) announced that it is talking with the telecom company about selling its 45% stake in Verizon Wireless. Verizon Wireless has surged in the U.S. to become the country's top wireless network by subscribers. Verizon is looking to control the full share of this lucrative business, rather than missing out while Vodafone capitalizes.
However, a deal won't come cheap: According to sources referenced by Bloomberg, such a sale could end up at a mind-blowing $130 billion. Vodafone's stock has surged more than 7.5% on the news. It's a hefty price to pay, but for Verizon, which gained about 66% of its revenue last year from its wireless business, it's a chance to take over a dominant leadership role in the U.S. market and pull far ahead of rival AT&T, which controls the country's second-largest wireless network.
The U.S. mobile market might be somewhat saturated in an age when everyone seems to have a wireless phone, but with more and more devices using wireless connectivity, Verizon sees plenty of strength to come in future quarters.
The Dow's losers are a small group today, but Big Oil giants ExxonMobil (NYSE:XOM) and Chevron (NYSE:CVX) are leading the holdouts down, losing 1.6%and 0.9%, respectively. The escalating Syrian crisis has sent crude-oil prices surging in the past few days, although the Middle Eastern nation is only a minor producer of oil compared to some of the largest producers. However, rising tensions and potential instability make the Middle East a volatile place to do business, and both Exxon and Chevron have pulled out of projects in the region recently.
Exxon recently reduced its stake in an Iraqi oil field as the Baghdad and Kurdish governments squabble over oil rights to multinational energy giants. While the West Qurna I field that Exxon scaled back boasts an impressive estimated 8 billion barrels of oil, Iraq's unstable political situation -- and now the rising tide of conflict in the region -- makes this a safe play by Exxon.
Chevron, on the heels of selling its Egyptian retail network, has pulled out of a Nigerian liquefied-natural-gas project after delays plagued the venture. Nigeria is an energy-rich state and nowhere near as unstable as Iraq or Syria, and Chevron is hardly quitting the country entirely: It's the third-largest energy-producer in the country. While the company has looked to sell off several assets in Nigeria, it's vital that Chevron continues to increase its presence in energy-rich Africa.