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 Industrials (DJINDICES:^DJI) once again traded quietly this morning, continuing the slower-paced vibe of the holiday-shortened Thanksgiving week. But gains in home prices and building permits for new homes helped spur the Dow to a 16-point gain as of 11 a.m. EST. Even weakness in the Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index wasn't enough to erase those gains. Indeed, consumer stocks Disney (NYSE:DIS) and Home Depot (NYSE:HD) were among the top gainers in the Dow, even as energy giant ExxonMobil (NYSE:XOM) lost ground.
Disney climbed 1.43% as analysts at UBS raised their price target and earnings-per-share expectations on the media giant. Now that the field has been set for the 2014 World Cup, investors are looking more closely at the potential ad revenue from the event. Even though soccer isn't the most popular sport in the U.S., it commands a worldwide audience, and obtaining rights to its broadcast could be extremely lucrative in targeting specific demographic groups and catering to advertisers seeking that audience.
Home Depot rose 1.1%, with the obvious cause being the positive news on the housing front. Many investors have been worried that rising rates could end the home-improvement chain's impressive share-price run of the past several years. But so far, homebuyers seem to have been able to sustain demand for housing despite the incremental increase in financing costs. Even with rising rates, homes remain relatively affordable compared to historical norms, and the incentives to do renovation or maintenance work to get houses into shape are rising as well.
Exxon, meanwhile, dropped 0.5%. Oil prices have been falling recently, and with a new nuclear deal with Iran on the table, supplies of crude could expand even further and depress prices more. Interestingly, spreads between global and domestic oil prices have widened again, with the $15-per-barrel difference potentially giving the company's refining segment more favorable conditions even if production revenue slips. The big question is whether lower energy prices will spur more demand or whether Exxon will continue to face the challenges of falling prices and keeping production levels growing at the same time.