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.
Investors hoping for the stock markets to follow through on their gains from yesterday were disappointed with today's market moves as two key stock benchmarks were unable to put together further advances after setting new all-time record highs on Wednesday. Between the inevitable revisiting of the monetary-policy question and other potential roadblocks such as the federal budget, it wasn't surprising to see a pullback. All in all, though, the declines were modest, with the Dow Jones Industrials (DJINDICES:^DJI) falling 40 points and the S&P 500 down just 0.2%.
Among the stocks pulling the Dow down was UnitedHealth (NYSE:UNH), which dropped 3%. The reason for today's drop wasn't immediately obvious, although the company's approach to the coming implementation of Obamacare has some investors nervous. Uncertainty often causes short-term traders to push stocks downward, and with private employers starting to move their employee plans to private health exchanges, it's clear that the entire framework of how Americans obtain health insurance will be in flux for the foreseeable future.
Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) dropped 2.2% on its penultimate day as a Dow stock. Analysts were quick to point to weak guidance from rival Oracle (NYSE:ORCL) as a cause for concern among HP shareholders, as Oracle gave weaker earnings guidance than investors had hoped to see. Some argued that Oracle's weakness would translate to poor results throughout the industry, but it's telling that Oracle shares managed to gain on the day despite HP's drop. The implication is that HP will suffer even more from the competitive pressures Oracle cited than Oracle itself will.
Finally, Disney (NYSE:DIS) fell 2%. The company's movie division yet again decided to push back future film releases, this time affecting Pixar offerings. Coming on the heels of a delay for its next long-anticipated Pirates of the Caribbean installment, Disney needs to give investors more confidence that it can handle all the potential blockbusters it has in its rich stable of media-powerhouse brands like Marvel, Lucasfilm, and Pixar.
Fool contributor Dan Caplinger has no position in any stocks mentioned. You can follow him on Twitter @DanCaplinger. The Motley Fool recommends UnitedHealth Group and Walt Disney. It owns shares of Oracle. and Walt Disney. 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.