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 S&P 500 Index (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) reached the psychologically meaningful 1,800 level in early trading Monday as the stock market continued to rally higher. With the notable exception of the debt ceiling and budget issues, which peaked last month, Wall Street has been mainly focused on the future of Federal Reserve stimulus efforts. Since Janet Yellen -- the new nominee to replace Chairman Ben Bernanke at the central bank -- spoke last week and reiterated her support for loose money policies, little else has moved the market. With a dearth of catalysts, the S&P 500 fell from earlier highs, losing six points, or 0.4%, to end at 1,791.
Casino game maker International Game Technology (NYSE:IGT) ended toward the bottom of the benchmark index, falling 5.6%. Shareholders got a healthy taste of good and bad news last week. The company boosted its quarterly dividend to $0.11 per share, up from $0.10 per share. The annual yield now sits at 2.6%, or roughly the return of the 10-year Treasury yield. At the same time, a number of big-name Vegas casinos are transitioning from slot machines to more lucrative games as casinos revamp to make each square inch of real estate do its best ATM impression.
Shares of North American grocery store Safeway (UNKNOWN:SWY.DL) lost 4.3% as grocers begin to feel the effects of falling food-stamp funding by the federal government. The funding increase for food stamps, known as SNAP benefits, expired on November 1, and will likely hit the top and bottom lines of grocers that accepted them. Of the seven publicly traded U.S. grocers worth more than $2 billion, not a single one advanced today, and Goldman Sachs even went so far as to downgrade one of Safeway's competitors, SUPERVALU.
Lastly, coal miner Peabody Energy (NYSE:BTU) slumped 3.7%. A painful decline in stock price is nothing new for coal miners or Peabody Energy, in particular, as both prices and demand have fallen with the shift from coal to cleaner energy alternatives like natural gas. Regulatory pressure is also hurting the prospects for coal miners: The White House is taking concerted actions to prevent "dirty" coal from being used in new power plants. With Peabody boasting no trailing earnings and facing an uphill battle against competitive energy sources and governmental regulations, this stock just doesn't have much going for it right now.