These Stocks Are Propping Up the Dow

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI) has had a bumpy ride today, but as of 1:20 p.m. EDT the blue-chip index sits flat, up less than a point. The S&P 500 (INDEX: ^GSPC) isn't much better off, up 0.19% for the day.

The three U.S. economic releases this morning were mixed for stocks.





New unemployment claims

Oct. 13 to Oct. 20



Durable-goods orders




Pending home sales




Source: MarketWatch U.S. Economic Calendar.

The first economic release was the U.S. Department of Labor's new unemployment claims report, which showed that claims fell to 369,000 from last week's 391,000. That's in line with analyst expectations of 370,000. The four-week average rose to 368,000. Analysts tend to follow the four-week average, as the weekly numbers can be highly volatile.

US Initial Claims for Unemployment Insurance Chart
US Initial Claims for Unemployment Insurance Chart

US Initial Claims for Unemployment Insurance data by YCharts.

The second economic release was from the U.S. Department of Commerce, which announced that durable-goods orders were up 9.9% in September, above analyst expectations of a 8.3% rise. If you exclude the transportation sector (planes and cars), durable-goods orders were only up 2%, below analyst expectations.

The third economic release was the National Association of Realtors' pending home-sales index. For the past few months, the housing market has been picking up. In September, the index rose 0.3% to 99.5.

US Pending Home Sales Index Chart
US Pending Home Sales Index Chart

US Pending Home Sales Index data by YCharts.

The Dow is down on the news, but a few stocks are defying the Dow's drop.

Today's Dow leaders
Today's Dow leader is Procter & Gamble (NYS: PG) , up 3.35% to $70.11. The consumer products company reported expectation-beating earnings of $0.96 per share, or $1.06 if you exclude restructuring and legal charges. Depending on how you look at it, that's either down 7% or up 3% from last year's $1.03. Analysts expected EPS of $0.96, excluding one-time costs. Revenue was $20.74 billion, down 5% from last year's $21.97 billion and in line with analyst expectations of $20.79 billion. Fool analyst Austin Smith sees Procter & Gamble's dividend growth slowing and thinks investors should pass on the stock. Click here for his take.

Second for the day is Pfizer (NYS: PFE) , up 1.29% to $25.50. Yesterday, the company announced it had received conditional approval in the EU for its lung cancer drug Xalkori. The drug is already approved in the U.S., Japan, and Canada. Pfizer reports earnings on Oct 30. Analysts expect EPS of $0.53 and revenue of $14.64 billion. Fool analyst Travis Hoium recently wrote why investors shouldn't panic if a company misses earnings. Click here for his take.

The best approach
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Dan Dzombak can be found on his Facebook page, he holds no position in any company mentioned. Click here and like his Facebook page to follow his investing articles. 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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