Can Anything Hold Down the Dow?


Though the Dow Jones Industrial Average remained in the red for the majority of the trading session, it still managed to fight its way into the black just prior to the closing bell. The Dow closed at 14,450, marking another record-breaking close, after it gained 2.77 points. After just barely closing up, this index of blue-chip stocks managed to continue its now eight-day winning streak.

The S&P 500 and Nasdaq, unfortunately, did not manage to follow the Dow, closing lower by 0.24% and 0.32%, respectively. But the S&P 500 remains within striking distance of its all-time high of 1,565, after closing at 1,552 this afternoon.

A few Dow winners
The blue-chip index's top performer today was Merck , whose shares rose 3.16%. The move higher came after an advisory board approved the continuation of a trial for Merck's Vytorin. Some analysts believe the cholesterol-fighting compound could become a major blockbuster drug for the company.

Vytorin hit a bump in the road in 2008, when one smaller trial's evidence suggested that the drug increased patients' likelihood of cancer. During the same year, another study found Vytorin to be no more effective than a generic cholesterol-reducing drug. This latest nine-year trial of 18,000 participants, scheduled to conclude late in 2014, will have serious implications for Merck's future.

Although Boeing continues to have issues with it 787 Dreamliner, shares keep on heading higher, rising 1.47% today. Bloomberg reported today that the aircraft manufacturer received an order from Ryanair Holdings worth $15.1 billion. Boeing will provide Ryanair with 170 of its 737 jets. Insiders familiar with the deal said that it should be formally announced sometime next week.

Shares of Hewlett-Packard rose by 1.76% today, after Britain's Serious Fraud Office confirmed that it was investigating HP's allegations that Autonomy misrepresented its value before HP purchased the British company in 2011. In Nov. 2012, HP wrote down $8.8 billion related to its $10 billion purchase of Autonomy and claimed that the previous management team altered sales figures in an attempt to increase Autonomy's total enterprise value.

The U.S. Justice Department opened an investigation into the matter shortly after HP made the writedown announcement. Today was the first official statement that British authorities also were looking into the matter.

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Fool contributor Matt Thalman has no position in any stocks mentioned, and neither does The Motley Fool. Check back Monday thru Friday as Matt explains what caused the Dow's winners and losers of the day and every Saturday for a weekly recap. Follow Matt on Twitter @mthalman5513. 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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