Why Economic Doubt Isn't Holding Back the Dow

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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.

Throughout much of 2013, the stock market has responded to economic data in unpredictable ways. Sometimes investors have applauded strength in the U.S. economy by pushing stocks higher, while at other times strong readings have inspired fear about the future course of the Federal Reserve's monetary policy. This morning, the "bad news is good news" camp seems to be winning out, as a more than 7% drop in durable-goods orders didn't stop stocks from positing a modest gain, with the Dow Jones Industrials up 28 points as of 10:55 a.m. EDT. Bond prices recovered somewhat, with the yield on the 10-year Treasury falling back to about 2.8% after having climbed above 2.9% late last week.

Looking at individual Dow components, today's market moves largely seem to be temporary reversals of stronger recent trends. For instance, Home Depot is up 2.8% this morning, regaining some of the roughly 8% it lost during the previous couple of weeks as rising interest rates have raised questions about the durability of the housing market's sharp recovery over the past year. Last week's figures on new-home sales helped drag the home improvement retailer down for the week, but bargain-hunting investors appear to be stepping in today.

By contrast, Microsoft has given up some of last week's big gains, falling by 1.8%. With the news that longtime CEO Steve Ballmer plans to retire within the next year, many investors finally got what they had been wishing for. Yet now the company has to answer the difficult question of who can effectively fill Ballmer's shoes and come up with a working strategy for maximizing the tech giant's value going forward.

Finally, consumer products giant Procter & Gamble has fallen about 0.7%. As The Wall Street Journal noted on Friday, the company revealed in its proxy filing that it is paying $200,000 to provide a temporary residence for CEO A. G. Lafley. Lafley's apparent decision not to establish a more permanent residence in the Cincinnati area, where P&G is based, only reinforces the fact that the decision to bring back the former CEO is a temporary move, rather than a permanent solution to the company's struggles in recent years.

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The article Why Economic Doubt Isn't Holding Back the Dow originally appeared on Fool.com.

Fool contributor Dan Caplinger has no position in any stocks mentioned. You can follow him on Twitter @DanCaplinger. The Motley Fool recommends Home Depot and Procter & Gamble. The Motley Fool owns shares of Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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