Mr. Market's Wild Holiday Ride


Rapidly swinging up, down, then back up again like a demanding toddler at a playground, the Dow Jones Industrial Average swung wildly throughout the day, and closed 18 points lower, or 0.14%, to end the day at 13,096. Despite some optimistic economic data in the morning on things like unemployment and home sales, the markets fell into a rut, as no positive news came on the fiscal cliff resolution. At one point this afternoon, every single Dow stock had lost ground.

Thankfully, in the last hour and a half, stocks staged a comeback. International Business Machines was one of six Dow stocks to end in positive territory, after the House of Representatives announced a Dec. 30 session to work on the impending fiscal cliff.

Another technological blue chip mainstay, Cisco Systems , wasn't quite as lucky, and actually led the index's laggards on Thursday, falling 1.4%. Cisco investors have seen a slew of acquisitions this year, and perhaps last week's pickup of telecom service-management provider BroadHop was one too many. Last month alone, Cisco spent nearly $1.5 billion to buy three different cloud-based companies. If Cisco's hoping these acquisitions will take investors to Cloud Nine, thus far, it's been sorely mistaken.

It almost goes without saying that another day closer to the fiscal cliff is another bad day for industrials. So, as the markets began to pick up a bit in the afternoon, aluminum manufacturer Alcoa didn't join the rally; a last-minute meeting scheduled just days before the Jan. 1 deadline apparently wasn't enough to boost the stock, and shares fell 1.3%.

Outside of the Dow, there was at least one unusual winner. Herbalife , which sells weight management and nutritional supplement products, finally had a decent day, gaining 3.2%. Nevermind that the company is down more than 40% for the year, or that legendary hedge fund managers have called the business model a "pyramid scheme." The company will hold a meeting in mid-January to address these issues, so there's no need to fear. Phew!

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John Divine has no positions in the stocks mentioned above. You can follow him on Twitter @divinebizkid and on Motley Fool CAPS @TMFDivine.The Motley Fool owns shares of International Business Machines. Motley Fool newsletter services recommend Cisco Systems and International Business Machines. 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 Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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