Why Today's Flat Market Is Good News for Long-Term Investors

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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.

Today's news that job growth in the U.S. was weaker than economists had hoped is dragging on the stock market, and at first glance, that might seem like bad news for bullish investors. But what's particularly encouraging is that stock investors are once again reconnecting their prospects with growth in the U.S. economy. That's a welcome change from the "bad news is good news" paradigm that we saw in the recent past, where stocks would rally on hopes that the Federal Reserve would keep taking new stimulative measures in an effort to hasten the pace of the economic recovery. Despite this morning's loss in the Dow Jones Industrials , which is flat as of 11 a.m. EDT, having recovered from steep losses, investors are showing signs that they understand where long-term share-price appreciation will come from.

Nevertheless, many individual Dow components are falling after the employment news. DuPont is down 0.9%, as the company could face opposition from customers as it moves to focus more on its agribusiness segment. Yesterday, rival Monsanto got the bad news that farmers and others who have challenged its patented crops will appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court after their move to prevent Monsanto from suing them for accidental use of its seeds was rejected by an appeals court. Similar issues could plague DuPont in the future if it becomes more reliant on seed designs of its own.

UnitedHealth is flatlining after the release of a study earlier this week from the Kaiser Family Foundation judged that insurance costs under Obamacare would be affordable. The survey looked at 17 different states, examining the best-available premium rates for a couple of different coverage options for residents of various ages. For UnitedHealth, the key to success will be getting people of all ages to buy policies in compliance with Obamacare so as to broaden its risk pool to the largest extent possible. The biggest threat to UnitedHealth and its peers would be if the healthiest people chose not to get coverage, leaving insurers with higher costs and potential premium increases that could sour their public perception.

Finally, JPMorgan Chase stock has slipped after the company decided to stop offering student loans. Even as student debt has exploded higher in recent years, the desirability of student loans from the banking sector's perspective has fallen substantially because of the removal of government guarantees on private loans. With a higher risk profile, JPMorgan apparently believes that other types of lending represent a better risk-reward proposition.

Moves like JPMorgan's are part of why bank stocks have posted massive gains over the past few years. But there could still be further gains to come for some banks, as long as you know where to look. The Motley Fool's new report "Finding the Next Bank Stock Home Run" will show you how and where to find these deals. It's completely free -- click here to get started.

The article Why Today's Flat Market Is Good News for Long-Term Investors originally appeared on Fool.com.

Fool contributor Dan Caplinger owns warrants on JPMorgan Chase. You can follow him on Twitter @DanCaplinger. The Motley Fool recommends UnitedHealth Group. The Motley Fool owns shares of JPMorgan Chase. 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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