The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI) closed basically flat today, even as a report came out indicating that the eurowide economy shrank by an annualized 0.7% last quarter. Budget cuts in periphery countries are continuing to take their toll on economic growth.
One bit of good news: U.S. retail sales rose 0.8% in July, the highest in five months. A few big names rose considerably today:
Home Depot reported 12% earnings growth as a result of cost savings and stronger sales of home-improvement supplies and accessories. Especially encouraging for shareholders of the retailer were that some of the states to show the best turnaround were the hardest-hit housing markets, suggesting that the industry may be due for an improvement as housing continues to recover. Home Depot also raised its full-year earnings guidance. It'll be interesting to see what Lowe's (NYS: LOW) says when it releases earnings on Monday. Home Depot's chief competitor has had a much more difficult time at producing a sales rebound on a same-store basis lately.
Better retail sales also helped boost Wal-Mart shares. The world's largest retailer, which announced its own brand of high-end dog food today, is expected to post earnings per share of $1.17 when it reveals second-quarter earnings on Thursday.
In a flurry of activity, Pfizer is buying the rights to sell a nonprescription form of AstraZeneca's popular heartburn medicine, Nexium, for $250 million, as well as filing an IPO for one-fifth of its multibillion-dollar Zoetis animal-health unit.
Home Depot, Pfizer, and Wal-Mart all beat the market today, but as investors it's also important for us to remember to keep our eyes on long-term performance. If you're looking for some more stock ideas, The Motley Fool recently highlighted "The 3 Dow Stocks Dividend Investors Need." You can get the full scoop on these three promising Dow dividend dynamos.
The article The 3 Biggest Dow Winners Today originally appeared on Fool.com.
Ilan Moscovitzdoesn't own shares of any companies mentioned.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of Home Depot and writing covered calls on Lowe's. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insightsmakes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy.
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