The Dow Falls as McDonald's Leaves Investors Hungry

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.

Will the Dow Jones Industrial Average set brand-new all-time record highs this week? After last week's resolution to the debt-ceiling and government-shutdown crises, investors returned to their more typical diet of earnings reports and economic data in assessing whether the Dow will join the S&P 500 at new highs. Existing-home sales fell 1.9%, and although prices continued to rise, the National Association of Realtors said price increases decelerated to a much slower pace than in recent months. Later in the week, the backlog of government reports delayed by the shutdown will finally start to break, as jobs figures are due out tomorrow and other data should start coming in thereafter. As of 10:55 a.m. EDT, the Dow was down 31 points.

In earnings news, McDonald's got the week off to a rocky start. The fast-food giant's stock is down almost 0.9% even after it beat earnings estimates for its third quarter. Earnings per share topped what analysts had expected by a penny, but revenue failed to rise as much as anticipated, and McDonald's sluggish global same-store sales growth of just 0.9% reflected particular weakness in the Asia-Pacific region. Even worse, McDonald's said October global comps were "expected to be relatively flat." Given the trouble that McDonald's has had with growth lately, today's report doesn't bode well for those who had hoped to see a turnaround take shape more quickly.

But merger and acquisition activity continue to play a role in sending some stocks higher. Crosstex Energy has soared 44% after Devon Energy said it would combine its pipeline and energy-infrastructure assets with Crosstex's to create a joint midstream-energy business. Devon, which rose more than 3% on the news, will have a controlling interest in the general-partnership and limited-partnership entities that will own Devon's and Crosstex's assets, with Crosstex unitholders getting a 40% stake in the new master limited partnership, as well as $2 per unit in cash.

Finally, solar stocks are continuing their strong performance from last week, and First Solar climbed another 5.4%. With fundamentals beginning to improve, solar investors hope that rising interest in the utility-scale projects that First Solar specializes in, as well as residential-level solar installations, will lead to good results throughout the industry as earnings releases start coming out.

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Fool contributor Dan Caplinger has no position in any stocks mentioned. You can follow him on Twitter @DanCaplinger. The Motley Fool recommends McDonald's. The Motley Fool owns shares of Devon Energy and McDonald's. 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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