These Stocks Are Leading the Dow Higher

At the halfway point of the trading day, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI) was basically unchanged, up just 2 points (0.01%) to 13,160. That's down 178 points from the one-year high of 13,338, which was set last Tuesday.

This week is expected to be slow as the summer comes to an end. The big news comes Friday: Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has a speech in Jackson Hole, Wyo., where investors hope his remarks will give insight into any possible moves from the Fed. However, some investors think he is likely to wait to announce anything till after the German constitutional court decides whether the EU bailout fund is legal.

In any event, stocks are up very slightly today. A few are leading the Dow.

Today's top three

  1. Today's Dow leader is Wal-Mart Stores (NYS: WMT) up 0.85% (or $0.62) to $72.73. The retail behemoth posted its Q2 earnings two weeks ago. The company missed analysts' expectations on sales growth but slightly beat on earnings per share. Same-stores sales were up 2.2% versus expectations of 2.7% growth. Earnings per share were a penny above expectations of $1.17. With the mixed numbers -- and consumers hurting -- Fool analyst Austin Smith believes Wal-Mart is overrated and there are better places for your money. Click here to find out more.

  2. McDonald's (NYS: MCD) is up 0.81% (or $0.72) to $89.64. There's no real news pushing the stock up... unless investors are super jazzed that the company will be expanding into Siberia (no joke). That won't be enough to offset McDonald's lackluster same-store sales. Analyst Austin Smith recently laid out three reasons to sell McDonald's. Watch the video here.

  3. Microsoft (NAS: MSFT) is up 0.70% (or $0.22) to $30.78. Microsoft is up on the news of Apple's legal victory over Samsung. Analysts speculate that the decision will turn manufacturers away from developing Android products and toward developing Windows-based products. Microsoft's Windows operating system is backed by some significant patents which Android makes use of (and Android developers pay Microsoft for). This would not only affect mobile phones but would hopefully also translate into market share gains for Microsoft in the tablet arena. Fool analyst Evan Niu took an in-depth look at the Apple vs. Samsung decision and its implications for the mobile phone space. As Microsoft marketing exec Bill Cox said, "Windows Phone is looking gooood right now ." Click here for Evan's analysis.

The best approach
Watching the broad market each day is exciting, but investing doesn't have to be gut-wrenching and stressful. If you're in the mood to pick up some solid buys for the long term, The Motley Fool has created a brand-new free report that focuses on three Dow stocks with both promising growth prospects and strong dividends. It can be yours, absolutely free -- just click here.

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Dan Dzombakcan be found on his Facebook page, and he has no position in any company mentioned.Click hereand like his Facebook page to follow his investing articles. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of McDonald's, Apple, and Microsoft. Motley Fool newsletter services have also recommended creating a synthetic covered call position in Microsoft and creating a bull call spread position in Apple. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

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