Dow Kicks Off Third Quarter With Gains
Wall Street seemed happy to get the second quarter -- especially the month of June -- behind it on Monday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up more than 150 points for much of the day after manufacturing data from the U.S. and Japan indicated that global industry is rebounding. Bullish data alone often drives equities higher, but investors anxiously awaiting the beginning of earnings season next week may also contribute to some speculative gains this week. By day's end, the Dow had risen 65 points, or 0.4%, ending at 14,974.
The biggest blue chip beneficiary of Monday's manufacturing rally was United Technologies , which added nearly 2%. Sentiment from Japan's biggest industrials shifted from largely negative to mildly optimistic in June, and that important swing was mirrored in the U.S., where manufacturing activity swung from contraction to expansion.
Property and casualty insurance giant Travelers ended as the second-biggest Dow gainer, tacking on 1.5%. There wasn't any major catalyst behind today's gains, but shares sure don't look too bad at these levels. The stock seems cheap: It trades at just over 10 times forward earnings, and pays a 2.5% dividend -- the same yield as 10-year Treasury notes.
But if raw dividend payouts were the only thing income investors cared about, Pfizer's stock certainly wouldn't have shed 0.8% Monday. While Pfizer boasts a 3.4% dividend, its payout ratio -- the percentage of earnings it shells out to investors via dividends each year -- is approaching 40%, while Travelers' sits at about 28%.
Lastly, shares of Intel were in the dumps today, losing 1.4%. The slump comes after a Piper Jaffray analyst reiterated the firm's "underperform" rating on the stock. Giving stock in the chipmaker just a $20 target price, the pessimism was partially driven by reports that Apple already reached an agreement with a Taiwanese chip manufacturer to take over some of its component production, a contract that could have been a big boon to Intel.
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