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 (DJINDICES:^DJI) has steadily forged higher today, up 98 points, or 0.62%, as of 12:55 p.m. EDT. The other two major U.S. indexes are looking comparatively sluggish today: The S&P 500 is up 0.44%, while the Nasdaq has gained a modest 0.21%. A number of the Dow's components are up more than 1% this afternoon, which may be a sign that investors believe the Federal Reserve will hold interest rates low at its October meeting, which kicked off today, and thus yield-seeking investors will again move into the safe and reliable dividend-paying stocks found within the blue-chip index.
Shares of Procter & Gamble (NYSE:PG) are up 1.3% on little news today. One potential contributor to the stock's gains is a statement by Unilever today. The rival consumer-goods giant reported slowing sales and cited price cuts made by the competition -- i.e., Procter & Gamble -- as one reason for the decline. Unilever CEO Paul Polman even said his company didn't fully respond to the onslaught from the competition. This should be good news for P&G shareholders, indicating that the company is likely taking market share from Unilever and perhaps other competitors.
P&G is also the Dow's oldest dividend aristocrat, and as I mentioned above, the Fed's policies are working in favor of these reliable dividend-payers. Another big dividend-payer moving higher today is AT&T (NYSE:T). The stock is currently up 2.4% after the Federal Communications Commission approved a deal between AT&T, Dish Network, and a few small wireless companies. The new alliance will help extend the spectrum band to more wireless carriers. While this may seem an unwise move for AT&T, which is essentially helping the competition, the smaller players will put more pressure on industry leader Verizon, and some believe this may lower the possibility of tougher regulation on the industry.
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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