IBM Boosts the Dow on a Slow Day

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.

With little economic news and no earnings reports from components of the Dow Jones Industrial Average today, the index gained a modest 21 points. The other major U.S. indexes also had a slow day, with the S&P 500 gaining a single point and the NASDAQ finishing about two points higher.

The limited moves made today aren't necessarily a bad thing. After last week, when the Dow made moves of almost 1% on three consecutive days, investors should be thankful for an opportunity to relax and take in everything that has happened recently.

Wal-Mart and IBM are the only two Dow components today to move more than 1% -- both in an upward direction. I pointed out earlier that shares of Wal-Mart may rise today in anticipation of the company's earnings reporting later this week, so let's focus on what's causing IBM to climb.

Shares of blue-chip tech company IBM gained 1.7% on slightly higher-than-normal volume. There has been no material news about IBM today, but the company did announce Friday that it had patented technology that will lower the power consumption of data centers. This comes as the once-dominant server provider has seen increased competition from around the industry; cloud computing has taken off, and others are hurrying to cash in on the next big growth area within the computing arena.  

IBM's shares are down 8.3% year to date, making it the worst-performing Dow stock of 2013. But if this new power-reducing technology can dramatically lower data center costs, it could be a big win for the company. At today's price of $183 per share, with a past price-to-earnings ratio of 12.7 and a forward P/E of just 10, this may be a good buying opportunity.

Eighteen of the Dow's 30 components are in the red today. However, the index's price-weighting method, which makes IBM the second-heaviest stock with 7.33% of the weight, means the stock single-handedly held the Dow above water. While most investors often complain about the old methodology of how the Dow is calculated, I am sure you won't hear many complaints about that today.

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Fool contributor Matt Thalman has no position in any stocks mentioned. Check back Monday through Friday as Matt explains what causing the big market movers of the day, and every Saturday for a weekly recap. Follow Matt on Twitter @mthalman5513The Motley Fool owns shares of International Business Machines. 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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