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.
How is Wall Street supposed to follow up a year like 2013? Boosted by low interest rates, last-minute congressional compromises, and surging real estate markets, stocks posted their highest gains since the 1990s. Unfortunately, the first economic data of 2014 saw four-week average jobless claims jump by 8,500 to more than 357,000, triggering some investors to cash in on last year's profits. After a series of all-time highs to close out December, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI 0.29%) fell 135 points, or 0.8%, to end at 16,441.
McDonald's (MCD 0.86%) stock, although it fell 0.6% today, wasn't a terrible performer relative to its peers, as 28 of 30 blue chips ended in the red Thursday. The year 2014 should, however, be an interesting one for the international fast-food giant, as a fiercely competitive industry forces McDonald's to rethink its offerings, pricing, and efficiency. The Wall Street Journal called out CEO Don Thompson as one of six head honchos with a lot on the line this year, as slowing sales and so-so new product launches caused the stock to vastly underperform the red-hot stock market.
Elsewhere in the broad-encompassing services sector, Myriad Genetics (MYGN -0.56%) stood out as one of the top gainers, adding 3.5%, and resolving to hopefully never repeat 2013's performance. The stock is more than 20% lower than it was just a year ago, although it's worth noting that Myriad Genetics is down more than 10% in the last five days of trading alone. That's because it looks like Medicare won't be willing to dole out what it used to for Myriad's services; the proposed new rate for its BRACAnalysis gene test was actually cut in half. As you might imagine, this didn't go over well with investors.
Another big mover on the day, DryShips (DRYS) stock, slumped 8.3% to begin 2014 on a very sour note. It was evident that the Greek shipper would get off to a poor start this year after the company announced -- after market close on the last day of the year -- that it would resume its $200 million equity offering. This is an odd turn of events, since just last month, DryShips mysteriously cancelled these same plans, only to reintroduce them weeks later, when the stock was trading at a much higher price.