Though the Dow Jones Industrial Average spent most of the day underwater, a steady upward climb was enough to give it a slight win for the day, finishing with a gain of eight points, or 0.06%. A day after the Japanese Nikkei fell more than 7%, U.S. markets seemed to wake up with a hangover, as investors were still digesting the reality that the Fed's bond-buying program could soon be tapering off. In the only economic report of the day, durable goods came in well ahead of schedule, jumping 3.3% in April, on expectations of 1.6%.
Also providing a jolt for the Dow was Procter & Gamble , gaining 4% after announcing a change at CEO. The consumer-goods giant said current CEO Bob McDonald is retiring, and will be replaced with former chief A.G. Lafley, effective immediately. Shares hit an all-time high on the news. Some investors, including activist investor Bill Ackman, who owns a 1% stake in the company, have been agitating for a switch, as the consumer-goods giant has had a tough time finding new growth channels because its products are already ubiquitous. Lafley is 65, and many expect him to help groom a successor. P&G share slid 6% last month in its earnings report due to slow revenue growth and a poor outlook.
Hewlett-Packard , meanwhile, was the Dow's worst-performing stock today, falling 2.6% after soaring 17% the day before on a strong earnings report and outlook. Today's drop was not news-driven, and seems to be merely a correction after yesterday's bounce. HP has been the best-performing Dow stock this year, but also one of the most volatile, and with revenues still declining quickly, there's no guarantee the stock will be able to maintain the gains we've seen thus far.
The only other Dow stock to move more than 1% today was Wal-Mart , which gained 1.3% after announcing a program to help improve its inventory system. The world's biggest retailer has reportedly hired an outside auditor to add neon green dots to items that are particularly sensitive to stockouts. Separately, Wal-Mart also announced it would sell Fatburger patties, a burger chain popular on the west coast, a deal that could help the retailer gain favor with fans of the fast-food chain.
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