Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.
U.S. stock markets started the day on a tear, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) jumping 114 points and the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) gaining 11 points in early trading. Investors cheered a Department of Labor report that U.S. jobless claims fell 5,000 to 305,000 last week -- near a six-year low.
But the euphoria was short-lived, because House Speaker John Boehner said Republicans will push to tie an increase in spending and government funding to more federal spending cuts. The mere thought of another political showdown in Washington sends chills down investors' spines, because there's currently a standstill just five days from a government shutdown and less than three weeks out from a default on federal debt. The thought of either scenario deflated the gains reached early in the day, and half an hour left in trading, the Dow is up just 0.11%, while the S&P 500 has gained 0.08%.
Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) is lagging the Dow today after reporting a $0.225 per-share dividend yesterday. Some investors may have been looking for an increase in the dividend, as this was one year out from the last dividend increase. But Intel's likely holding on to the cash because it sees turbulent waters ahead as the PC declines and it invests in next-generation chip systems. If Intel picks up a few big smartphone contracts in the next quarter or two, I think the dividend will be increased again, but keeping it constant this quarter is certainly no cause for panic.
On the flip side, Verizon (NYSE:VZ) is up 1.3% after T-Mobile said it would stop carrying Blackberry devices in-store. Verizon Wireless and AT&T, the two largest U.S. carriers, will keep the phones stocked in stores -- potentially a small differentiator from a fast-growing T-Mobile. Blackberry's not exactly selling smartphones like hotcakes, but Verizon clearly sees the value in offering a wide variety of devices after missing out on the first few years of iPhone sales in the U.S.
Fool contributor Travis Hoium manages an account that owns shares of Intel. The Motley Fool recommends Intel. The Motley Fool owns shares of Intel. 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.