Why the Dow Moved Today

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It was a pretty flat day to cap a January rally for the three major stock market indexes:

Index

Change

Ending Value

Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI) -20.81 [-0.16%]12,632.91
Nasdaq (INDEX: ^IXIC) +1.90 [+0.07%]2,813.84
S&P 500 (INDEX: ^GSPC) -0.60 [-0.05%]1,312.41

Meanwhile, for the month, Dow was up 3.4%, the S&P 500 was up 4.4%, and the Nasdaq was up 8%!

The main economic news of the day was a drop in the Conference Board's consumer confidence index to 61.1. Compare that with64.8 in December and forecasts for 68. The Case-Shiller home price index also came out, and the latest figures (for November) indicate a 3.7% drop for the 20-city index from a year ago. That was a little worse than estimates.

But on a flat day, it was individual company news that was paramount. In the Dow, two companies reported earnings: Exxon Mobil (NYS: XOM) and Pfizer (NYS: PFE) .

Exxon shares fell 2% (the biggest loss of the Dow 30) despite beating expectations. It posted $1.97 a share in earnings for the fourth quarter versus expectations of $1.96. There was strength in exploration and production (profit up 18%) but weakness in refining and marketing (profit down 63%) and in production (output fell 9% to 4.53 million barrels of oil equivalent per day).

Pfizer shares were down 0.8%, also despite beating expectations. Although its $0.50per share in adjusted EPS beat the $0.47 expected, the GAAP earnings per share were just $0.19,versus $0.36 a year before. Pfizer felt the sting of having Lipitor come off patent, as well as one-time charges.

That's the daily Dow news, but remember to keep focused on the long term. For Exxon, it's keeping an eye on its energy assets. For Pfizer, it's making sure it can maintain its pipeline in the face of patent expirations.

For more earnings-season-related ideas, check out the Fool's "Fourth-Quarter Earnings Report: 7 Stocks You'll Want to Watch." In the video, you'll find information on this quarter's possible big performers. It's completely free for our readers, so access your free report.

At the time this article was published Anand Chokkaveluowns shares of ExxonMobil and Pfizer, but he holds no other position in any company mentioned. Check out hisholdings and a short bio.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of Pfizer. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insightsmakes us better investors. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy.

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