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.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI -0.15%) has fallen for five straight sessions, shedding 400 points in the process. With losses like that, you'd think a serious threat were looming over Wall Street. There is, actually, and each day we eke toward October without knowing how to pay off our sovereign debt, Wall Street takes some chips off the table. As one Texas senator filibustered for 22 straight hours, trying to delay a vote on raising the debt ceiling, the stock market rolled its eyes and lost 61 points, or 0.4%, ending at 15,273.
JPMorgan Chase (JPM -0.71%), which was Tuesday's worst performer, added 2.7% Wednesday as it got deeper into talks with the feds about what it would cost to make all its legal pains go away. Yesterday, JP Morgan reportedly offered $3 billion to settle a handful of issues with the Department of Justice. Today, that number has ballooned to $11 billion. The Wall Street Journal reports that even that figure leaves the two parties billions of dollars apart, depending on which cases the bank wants dropped.
The only reason investors would be happy with Wednesday's news is if they thought a deal was close to being struck, and the G-men are less likely to pursue expensive lawsuits related to mortgage securities practices.
Cisco Systems (CSCO 0.39%) gained 1.2%, reversing a four-day bearish streak. There was nothing substantial behind today's rise, and Cisco actually looks as if it could be a bargain in today's market, trading at just 13 times earnings and offering a 2.8% annual dividend. Cisco is also heavily promoting "the Internet of everything," the concept that most common devices will be hooked up to the Internet at all times, speaking to each other in the soulless language of 0s and 1s. An eerie future, to be sure, but a potentially lucrative one for Cisco shareholders.
Johnson & Johnson (JNJ 0.31%) shed 1.3% even after scoring two contracts from the Department of Defense that were worth more than $63 million. That said, J&J is worth more than $245 billion in total, so a pesky $63 million in government contracts doesn't exactly move the needle. J&J was just along for the ride Wednesday, as health-care companies were the worst performers in the markets today.
Lastly, Wal-Mart (WMT 0.24%) lost 1.5%, ending as the index's worst performer. The massive retailer is reportedly trimming back product orders in the face of excessive inventory going into the holiday season. It could be indicative of financial problems for the company, which some think is being punished by Wall Street for not hiring enough staff to keep its shelves adequately stocked.