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.
As the closing bell rang today on Wall Street, Washington was reportedly close to a deal to end the government shutdown and avoid hitting the debt ceiling. With that confidence, investors pushed stocks higher nearly across the board. The widely followed Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) ended the session up 205 points, or 1.4%, and closed at 15,373, a level the Dow has not exceeded since September 23. The S&P 500 increased by 1.38% and the Nasdaq rose 1.2%.
The fact that the markets rallied today was nice, but, as investors, we need to question what Washington is doing and if this was all necessary. Which it certainly wasn't. But, perhaps just as important is how this up-and-down ride in stocks affects the average investor. These unnecessary market moves certainly play with investors' heads and could make them question if the roller-coaster ride is even worth the hassle or, worse yet, make them think they can accurately time these irrational market moves.
As most of us know, we can't consistently and accurately time the market and, yes, over the long run this sometimes-tumultuous ride is worth it. After all, the stock market is the best place to accumulate wealth in the long run. So from one investor to another, hang in there. Things will hopefully get better, and always remember not to let your emotions or greed take control of your portfolio.
Now (as I get off my soapbox), let's take a look at what why Home Depot (NYSE:HD) missed today's rally. The stock has been hit with good news two days in a row but ended in the red on both. Yesterday, S&P upgraded the company's credit rating due to a stable outlook for the retailer as the housing market continues to improve. Yet shares still ended as the Dow's worst performer after falling 1.5%. Today, SunTrust initiated coverage on the stock and gave it a buy rating with a $90 price target and yet shares fell 0.32%, making it the Dow's second-worst performer of the day.
So why have shares fallen despite what would seem to be good news? One reason may be because of the government shutdown and the effect it is having on the real estate market. Remember, a lot of Americans use some sort of government-funded or -backed program to get a mortgage for a new home. Since the government is not currently open for business, those programs aren't happening, putting those looking to buy a new home on hold. As we have seen before, Home Depot flourishes when the housing market is booming, but with this slowdown caused by the government shutdown, the company may see slightly lower revenues in the fourth quarter as home purchases are delayed, as home projects may also be pushed back a few weeks.
As Home Depot was falling today, shares of Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO) were moving 0.9% higher. The move comes days after the company reported its own quarterly earnings and on the day its closest rival, Pepsi (NYSE:PEP), reported its own earnings. While similar to Coke, Pepsi did report better-than-expected earnings per share of $1.24 when Wall Street was only looking for $1.17. But also similar to Coke, Pepsi experienced a slight soda volume decline of 3%, which may be one reason shares of Coke rallied today. Had Coke been the only one to report weak carbonated beverage demand in the U.S., it would have seemed that American consumers are not just trying to get healthy but just deciding not to drink Coke as much as they have in the past.
While it's not a good sign for either Coke or Pepsi that soda volume is shrinking, it is a sign that consumer preferences are fundamentally changing, which is leading to the importance of non-soda offerings. Coke reported a 2% increase in total volume in the U.S. for the quarter because of these types of beverages and Pepsi's management stated that it needs to come up with new, more natural low-calorie options. This should be encouraging to Coke shareholders as it may be a sign that Coke already has the jump on Pepsi in this beverage category.
Fool contributor Matt Thalman has no position in any stocks mentioned. Check back Monday through Friday as Matt explains what caused the Dow's winners and losers of the day and every Saturday for a weekly recap. Follow Matt on Twitter @mthalman5513.
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