Why the Dow's Waffling Into the Weekend

Most people look forward to weekends. But lately, the stock market has been nervous on most Fridays, as the uncertainty in Europe raises the possibility of some new problem arising over the weekend. The latest data on the U.S. trade deficit supported fears about Europe, as exports to the European Union fell by more than 11% in April. Still, without any huge news, the markets were pretty quiet, and the Dow Jones Industrials (INDEX: ^DJI) overcame an initial drop of as much as 60 points to rise by about 14 points shortly after 10:45 a.m. EDT.

Among Dow stocks, Kraft Foods (NYS: KFT) rose a bit after announcing that it would move its listing from the New York Stock Exchange to the Nasdaq later this month. Kraft said that listing fees on the Nasdaq were much less expensive. For now, Kraft will keep the same ticker, but after its split later this year, both its North American grocery division and its global snack foods business will take new ticker symbols.

McDonald's (NYS: MCD) fell 1.5% after releasing May sales results that disappointed investors. Same-store sales only rose 3.3%, with a drop in Asian market results weighing on the entire company. By contrast, U.S. sales remain strong in light of new product offerings, and even Europe is holding up reasonably well, although the company cited austerity measures as potentially creating problems down the road. Rival Yum! Brands (NYS: YUM) plunged more than 5%, as it, too, has depended increasingly on international sales for its growth.

Wal-Mart (NYS: WMT) , however, was a big winner, jumping more than 2% and hitting another 52-week high. Economic uncertainty has supported Wal-Mart stock lately, as investors apparently gravitate toward the dependable results that the retail giant has provided in past economic slowdowns. Despite the threat of ongoing fallout from its Mexican bribery scandal, Wal-Mart has proven incredibly resilient thus far even as its stock approaches all-time high levels.

Think global
It's increasingly important to know how emerging markets affect stocks in your portfolio. Even with a poor month for fast-food giants, sales of many U.S. companies depend on global growth. Find out more from the Fool's special free report on three American companies that are set to dominate the world. Just click right here and start reading your free copy now.

At the time thisarticle was published Fool contributor Dan Caplinger doesn't own shares of the companies mentioned. You can follow him on Twitter @DanCaplinger. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of McDonald's and creating a diagonal call position in Wal-Mart. 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 Fool has a disclosure policy.

Copyright © 1995 - 2012 The Motley Fool, LLC. All rights reserved. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.