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After gaining nearly 1% yesterday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) saw a repeat performance as shares moved up 128 points, or 0.9%, today on similar news. Investor continued to bid shares up, reacting to improving economic reports out of China and easing tensions in Syria.
In China, industrial output rose 10.4%, coming off yesterday's strong export figures, while retail sales rose 13.4% and fixed-asset investment jumped more than 20%. The Shanghai Composite followed suit, gaining 1.2% to hit a three-month high. Meanwhile, oil prices fell more than 2% as investors applauded recent steps to prevent a U.S.-led strike on the war-torn country. A Russian plan to have the international community take control of the Syrian government's chemical stockpile in lieu of an attack appears to be gaining traction on its way to being presented to the UN Security Council. President Obama will address the nation on Syria tonight.
Elsewhere, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) was stealing headlines as it unveiled its new iPhone 5S and lower-priced 5C. Investors seemed unimpressed, however, as shares of the tech giant finished down 2.3%, falling after the 5C's $549 price tag was released. The 5S will include an improved camera, a fingerprint sensor, and a faster processor and is available in a gold-colored case. But the much-rumored 5C was released at a price point above expectations, higher than older models such as the iPhone 4, which the market seemed to view as a missed opportunity to target emerging markets. Despite the hype, today's launch feels notably cooler than the one a year ago, and it seems Apple will have to develop a new category as it has in the past to wow the market once again.
On the Dow today, Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) was the blue chips' best performer, gaining 2.3%, though the increase was unrelated to Apple's flop. In fact, the Windows maker seems to be planning a presentation of its own as it invited members of the press to an event on September 23, when the company is expected to reveal its second generation of Surface tablets. After the first line had to be marked down significantly to sell off excess inventory, the release offers Microsoft a shot at redemption, which could prove timely with investors apparently disappointed in Apple's latest update.
Finally, the Dow announced it was getting its biggest makeover in nearly10 years as it will jettison Bank of America, Alcoa, and Hewlett-Packard and bring Nike, Visa, and Goldman Sachs into its 30-member index. The move seemed designed to remove lower-priced stocks that don't have much effect on the price-weighted index. Forcing out Alcoa and HP makes sense as the aluminum maker has by far the lowest market cap on the index and the PC maker is on the decline, while the addition of Nike represents a unique company in the index as an apparel maker. However, ditching B of A in favor of Goldman seems a bit shortsighted as the commercial bank is likely a better reflection of the economy than the investment house, and the addition of Visa also seems suspicious since its business is nearly identical to that of American Express, already a member of the exclusive club. The decision will take effect on September 23.
Fool contributor Jeremy Bowman owns shares of Apple and Nike. The Motley Fool recommends Apple, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, Nike, and Visa. It owns shares of Apple, Bank of America, Microsoft, Nike, and Visa. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.