Although Apple's mind-boggling earnings failed to spark much of a rally this morning, investors had a brand-new reason to rejoice in the afternoon. The Federal Reserve swooped in with the announcement that interest rates will remain low through 2014, adding a dose of clarity to the market.
Despite a strong rebound from the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI) , which finished up 0.66%, a few blue chips took a dive during the day.
Verizon (NYS: VZ) seemed to be riding the Apple wave yesterday, when it announced earnings, noting that sales of the iPhone more than doubled during the quarter. However, concern over the profit margins on these sales unnerved investors and sent the shares down 0.26% in today's trading. The company has heavily subsidized iPhone sales since launching its partnership with Apple in an attempt to steal some of AT&T's market share.
Hewlett-Packard (NYS: HPQ) and IBM (NYS: IBM) both finished down on the day, but only a modest 0.70% and 0.10%, respectively. Both stocks are up nicely this year, but perhaps the bar has been raised in the tech sector, considering Apple's gangbuster growth streak.
Finally, the pharmaceutical company Merck (NYS: MRK) dropped 0.26% on the day. Merck is set to report earnings on Feb. 2, but investors eager to gain perspective on the health-care industry were dialed in for Johnson & Johnson's after-hours results today. So far this year, Merck is up about 2.5%, about half of the return from the broader Dow index.
With two more trading days left, the Dow is poised to close higher for the fourth straight week. The Fed's announcement only increased the likelihood that the status quo will continue, which might not be such a bad thing. While the move won't provide any relief for bond yields, investors can find other income-generating strategies. For a few ideas on dividend stocks that provide a steady income stream, take a look at 10 dividend stocks that our analysts identified recently. This free report could propel your portfolio throughout 2012.
At the time thisarticle was published Isaac Pino has no positions in the stocks mentioned above. Follow him on Twitter, where he goes by@TMFBoomer. The Motley Fool owns shares of IBM. 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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