Markets Continue Their Climb Higher


As investors await tomorrow's conclusion of the Federal Reserve's two-day policy meeting, most are betting that the central bank won't make very many changes to its current stimulus programs. As of 12:50 p.m. EDT the Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 124 points, or 0.82%, while the S&P 500 has risen 0.69% and the Nasdaq is up 0.82%.

If investors feared that the Fed would slow down its bond-buying program, the markets would likely be falling today -- which, from one standpoint, doesn't make a lot of sense. The Fed has announced that it will only slow its bond-buying program once the economy is healthy and can fully sustain its own growth. One would think a healthy economy would be good for businesses and the market as a whole, but stocks would initially drop upon the termination of QE, as it could put a short-term damper on economic growth.

Currently, though, only a couple of the Dow's 30 components are missing out on the broad-market party. Procter & Gamble is flat after its Natura Pet Products unit voluntarily issued a recall for a number of lots of dry pet food because they may be contaminated with salmonella. There have not been any reported cases of infections, and the recall was not ordered by the FDA, but this will probably still hurt the Natura brand for some time. Consumers are not usually quick to forget these types of problems, but the good news for Procter & Gamble shareholders is that this unit is not a substantial part of the overall company. Procter & Gamble has a lot of different brands and units, and if one or two of them go belly-up, the health of the company shouldn't be affected too dramatically.

Outside the Dow, stocks in general are moving higher except in one sector in particular: the housing industry. Yesterday the homebuilder's confidence report was released, and the sector was broadly higher. However, yesterday's gains are looking overdone today as shares of the homebuilders sell off. Pulte Homes is down 0.5%, while Lennar has lost 0.8% and Hovnanian has lost 0.9%. Shareholders of any of the homebuilders should sit tight today, as these stocks will likely continue to move higher in the future as the housing market continues to heat up.

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Fool contributor Matt Thalman has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Procter & Gamble. 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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