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.
Consumer sentiment fell this month, although a frequently used measure of business activity in the Midwest rose in August. An assurance from President Obama that no U.S. ground troops would be deployed to Syria eased fears surrounding the intensity of the potential conflict. Still, the fact that the U.S. may be involving itself in a volatile situation with a lack of international consensus sent the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) down 30 points, or 0.2%, to end at 14,810.
Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) added 0.8%, ending as the top performer in the Dow, as the retailer positions itself for entry into the Indian market, according to a Wall Street Journal report. For a massive company like the $240-billion Wal-Mart, India is one very large market full of untapped growth. More than 1.2 people lived in the country as of 2011, so putting supermarkets there could do wonders for the business.
Procter & Gamble (NYSE:PG) advanced for a second straight session Friday, finishing out the day with 0.8% gains. With so many uncertainties -- from geopolitical tensions, to debt ceiling talks, to a looming shift in monetary policy -- the current investing landscape is rife with risks. Procter & Gamble is one of the largest, most-stable companies in the world, and that stability helped the stock stay afloat today.
Boeing (NYSE:BA), which was one of yesterday's hottest blue chips, lost 1% Friday as the industrials sector finished as the worst-performing area of the market. There wasn't anything substantial that should have driven the stock lower today, and serious long-term investors should take solace in the fact that the slight sell-off changes absolutely nothing about the company's prospects, which continued to impress as a recent release showed robust orders growth.
Alcoa (NYSE:AA) stumbled 1.4%, ending toward the bottom of the Dow for a second straight day. While being the Dow's most heavily shorted stock can pay off for patient investors if there's ever a "short squeeze," the flipside to that coin is that the stock may never recover substantially from today's current levels. I wouldn't bet one way or the other, personally, but JPMorgan's recent report on the state of aluminum producers wasn't bullish, as the bank said anywhere from 60% to 90% of producers would swing to losses if premium prices for the metal fall.