Why the Dow Gained Today

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The price chart for the Dow looked like a long-tail "V" today, falling in the early going and rising steadily from around 11:00 on. Led by the Nasdaq, each of the three major indices gained today: 

 

Change

Ending Value

Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI)

+21.57 [+0.17%]

12,471.02

Nasdaq (INDEX: ^IXIC)

+13.94 [+0.51%]

2,724.70

S&P 500 (INDEX: ^GSPC)

+3.02 [+0.23%]

1,295.50

That said, it was another day of pretty mellow movement out there -- at least on an overall basis. Individual company moves and stock movements, not any macro news, caused the index changes, including the Dow gain.

There was the usual handwringing over Europe, of course, but for me, the most interesting news was 30-year fixed mortgages hitting another record low at 3.89%, according to Freddie Mac. For some homeowners, refinancing may be the best opportunity the market's presenting -- stock or otherwise.  

But let's get to the individual Dow stocks.

Seemingly always in the mix is Alcoa (NYS: AA) , leading the winners with a 3.1% gain. Caterpillar [2.3%] and DuPont [1.7%] were the two next biggest. Alcoa already reported its earnings a few days ago, but investors can look forward to the other two reporting later this month.

Meanwhile, Chevron (NYS: CVX) [-2.6%] and Bank of America [-1.2%] were the biggest losers. Chevron issued an earnings warning ahead of its January 27 earnings release. Its fourth-quarter bottom line will be coming in "significantly below" the third quarter's due to weak refining margins. Meanwhile, Bank of America, though volatile, is still up over 20% year to date. 

So it looks like Chevron's shareholders (and potential shareholders) have some new info to assimilate. But, as always, remember to keep all the daily (and even quarterly) noise in perspective. Invest for the long term. And if you're looking for a long-term stock pick, our chief investment officer has identified his No. 1 stock for the next year. Find out which stock he likes in our brand-new free report: "The Motley Fool's Top Stock for 2012." I invite you to take a copy, free for a limited time. Just click here to access the report and find out the name of this legendary company.

At the time this article was published

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