Alcoa's Surge Can't Save the Dow's Decline

Alcoa's Surge Can't Save the Dow's Decline

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over daily movements, we do like to keep an eye on market changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

The markets have gone on a winning streak over most of the year, but it looks like this week's finally going to break the run. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is down again today, losing more than 60 points as of 2:15 p.m. EDT to cap off a week full of losses. It's an end to what had been six straight weeks of gains for the blue chip index. Most stocks are in the red on the index, but Alcoa's big day is keeping a small corps of winners afloat. Let's dive into the stories and movers you need to know.

Alcoa's Chinese boost
Alcoa has been the worst Dow stock for investors this year with a truly market-lagging performance. The stock's doing much better today, with shares of the aluminum giant up 2%. Alcoa got a boost from China today after it was reported that the country's imports and exports exceeded economist expectations. For a company like Alcoa, which is heavily reliant on Chinese growth to offset weak demand in established markets, that's a positive note in what's been an otherwise lackluster year.

Still, Alcoa and the aluminum industry as a whole are far off from true recovery. The most recent PMI report showed that aluminum prices remain depressed, and oversupply has crippled major competitors in the industry. Alcoa is a long-term rebuilding project that won't bounce back until trends shift in the industry's direction, even as the company expands to higher-growth areas such as producing finished goods.

Home Depot is capitalizing on much better economic trends, but this stock's on the other side of the Dow today with shares falling around 1.5%. The stock has been among the best of the Dow year-to-date, but downbeat reports from homebuilders this earnings season have taken some of the optimism out of Home Depot's outlook.

Should you be worried? The housing market's still rebounding nicely, and Home Depot's first in line to earn rewards from that gain. Since it's so reliant on a single market, however, it wouldn't be shocking to see increased volatility from Home Depot's shares in the future based on Wall Street overreactions to housing data. Still, it's one stock that's winning big on the U.S. recovery.

Finally, Johnson & Johnson is also falling on the day, helping the Dow's downturn with shares falling more than 1%. The company's recent earnings struck all the right marks back in July, and while J&J's down today, the stock's been a strong contender among the Dow's members year-to-date. J&J remains a top dividend stock in health care with a strong, diversified portfolio of products and a 2.8% dividend yield. This is one stock that's great for the long term in any portfolio -- a long term that often requires investors to overlook one-off drops like today's.

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Fool contributor Dan Carroll has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Home Depot and Johnson & Johnson. The Motley Fool owns shares of Johnson & Johnson. 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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