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.
After trading in the red for a good part of this morning and afternoon, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) managed to end the session up 70 points, or 0.45%, to close at a record high of 15,821. The S&P 500 likewise started the day in the red, but it ended up gaining 0.81% to also close at a new all-time high of 1,782. However, the Nasdaq's 1.16% rise made it the day's best performer of the three major U.S. indexes. It's difficult to pinpoint why the markets climbed today, but there's speculation that it may relate to the widespread belief that the Federal Reserve won't begin tapering its bond-buying program until at least its March meeting.
A few winners and losers
Within the Dow, Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) was one of the few blue-chip losers today. Shares fell 0.24% as reports surfaced indicating that the company will pay $4 billion to settle lawsuits relating to its ASR metal hip replacement, made by DePuy. Since J&J acquired DePuy, it's responsible for dealing with any legal issues that arise, even if something happened before J&J bought the medical-device maker. J&J has more than $25 billion in cash and experienced sales of more than $70 billion over the past year, so the company should be able to pay this settlement without hurting the overall business.
Outside the blue-chip index, shares of Macy's (NYSE:M) rose nearly 9.4% after the company reported quarterly earnings this morning. The results were much better than expected. Earnings per share of $0.47 beat analysts' estimates by $0.08 and marked a 31% increase over the same reporting period last year. Sales of $6.28 billion rose 3% over 2012, and same-store sales figures rose 3.5%, both beating expectations. But while things look good now, investors don't want to get complacent with this stock: The retail business is tough, and as we've seen with Sears and J.C. Penney recently, things can change quickly.
Finally, Yum! Brands (NYSE:YUM) saw its shares rise today after reporting that October same-store sales in China declined by only 5%. Estimates were calling for a much larger decline, after September's same-store sales declined 11%, so investors saw today's news as a victory of sorts. Yum! is still struggling to overcome the concerns that rose over the summer about the safety of eating chicken in China, but today's news is a sign that the tide may be turning. Shares of Yum! finished 2.38% higher today.