The Dow Is Nervous Ahead of Fed Decisions

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI) was quiet for the second day in a row as investors kept their poker faces on ahead of expected announcements from the Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank later this week. The blue chips were flat most of the day before dipping in late trading to finish down 0.5%.

Drugmaker Pfizer (NYS: PFE) posted a solid earnings beat this morning as the company overcame an estimated $2 billion loss in revenue from the loss of the patent on its Lipitor cholesterol drug. Shares gained 1.4% as cost-cutting in a number of areas helped propel adjusted EPS to $0.62 a share, or a 25% increase over last year, well ahead of the $0.54 the Street expected.

Home Depot (NYS: HD) led Dow stocks down, falling by 2%, apparently on news that rival Lowe's (NYS: LOW) is attempting to buy the Canadian homebuilding-supplies retailer Rona for $1.8 billion. Rona rejected the offer, even though Lowe's would pay a premium of 36.7% on its shares and the Canadian retailer has been struggling with negative same-store sales recently. The housing market has been strong in Canada, and Lowe's would like to push harder against Home Depot north of the border. Shares of Lowe's fell 5.5% after the news broke. Oddly, the Case-Shiller Home Price Index released this morning showed home values decreased by less than expected, potentially indicating a recovery in the American housing market.

In other news, Apple (NAS: AAPL) moved up 2.6% after key supplier Cirrus Logic announced on its earnings call that it was expecting blockbuster earnings in its third quarter, a sign that the iPhone5 or the iPad Mini could make an even bigger splash than analysts had thought. Shares of Cirrus shot up 23% on the news, and Apple's jump means that its shares have regained all of their post-earnings losses. Bernstein Research also initiated a rumor that the iPhone maker was considering a stock split so it could join the Dow, which may have added to its gains.

A number of economic reports in addition to the Case-Shiller Index showed promising signs. Personal income grew by 0.5%, slightly higher than expected; the Chicago PMI registered 1 point ahead of expectations at 53.7, and consumer confidence rose for the first time in five months, up to 65.9 from 62.7. Analysts had been expected a reading of just 61.0. Investors seemed unfazed by the good news, however.

Looking ahead to tomorrow, market-watchers will hear updates on construction spending, vehicle sales, and the all-important Fed announcement at 2 p.m. ET on whether there will be another round of quantitative easing.

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Fool contributorJeremy Bowmanowns shares of Apple and Cirrus Logic. The Motley Fool owns shares of Cirrus Logic and Apple. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Apple, Home Depot, and Pfizer, creating a bull call spread position in Apple, and writing covered calls on Lowe's.
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