The Dow Jones industrial average passed a major milestone Monday, topping the 16,000 level for the first time. It's the second big round number to fall this year. The Dow topped 15,000 back in May. You have to go back to 2007 to find the last year the index etched a new thousand-mark.
Admittedly, many market pros say the Dow isn't the most important index to follow because it's made up of just 30 blue chip stocks. So let's look at the S&P 500: Same story there. It rose to an intra-day record, topping the 1,800 mark for the first time.
But the major averages could not hold on to those midday gains, partly due to some cautious comments from the influential investor Carl Icahn. The Dow (^DJI) ended the day just 14 points higher at 15,976, the S&P 500 (^GPSC) fell 6 to 1,792, and the Nasdaq (^IXIC) slid 37 points to 3,949.
The Nasdaq is still 21 percent below its all-time high, set back in the Internet bubble days of early 2000.
Some of the big names on the Nasdaq gave back some of their big gains this year. Tesla Motors (TSLA) slid 10 percent and Twitter (TWTR) lost 6 percent. Apple (AAPL) fell 1 percent.
As for some of those 30 stocks on the Dow: Boeing (BA) was the big winner. It gained 2 percent after receiving more than $100 billion in orders for new planes at the Dubai Air Show. And that lifted the shares of several makers of key components. Precision Castparts (PCP) and Spirit Aerosystems (SPR) both rose more than 2 percent. B/E Aerospace (BEAV) gained 1 percent.
Another Dow stock, JPMorgan Chase (JPM), rose 1.5 percent after agreeing to pay $4.5 billion to settle claims that it sold faulty mortgage securities.
And Microsoft (MSFT) lost nearly 2 percent after the stock was downgraded by Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
Also moving on brokerage comments: SuperValue (SVU) down 8 percent after a Goldman Sachs downgrade, but Goldman raised its rating on Vitamin Shoppe (VSI), which added 2 percent.
Finally, JinkoSolar (JKS) soared 13 percent. The maker of components for solar power systems posted strong earnings and issued an upbeat outlook. The stock is up an astounding 900 percent from a year ago.
What to Watch Tuesday:
The Department of Labor releases employment costs for the third quarter at 8:30 a.m. Eastern time.
These major companies are due to report quarterly corporate earnings before markets open in New York:
Forbes' World’s Most Powerful People List, 2013 Edition
After Market: Dow and S&P 500 Top Big Milestones; Boeing's a Big Winner
Who’s more powerful: the omnipotent head of a corroding but still feisty power or the handcuffed head of the most dominant country in the world? This year’s snapshot of power puts the Russian president on top. Putin has solidified his control over Russia (“dictator” is no longer an outlandish word to ponder) and the global stage. Anyone watching the chess match over Syria has a clear idea of the shift in the power towards Putin. The ex-KGB strongman -- who controls a nuclear-tipped army, a permanent seat on the UN Security Council and some of the world's largest oil and gas reserves -- is allowed to serve two more terms, which could keep him office until 2024.
His signature legislation, Obamacare, is under fire, U.S. allies are outraged over NSA surveillance overseas, and the government shutdown for 16 days in October begs the question: Who's in control here? It appears that President Obama's lame duck period has set in earlier than usual for a two-term president, causing him to drop one notch from the No. 1 spot. To be sure, though, the leader of the free world remains in charge of the most powerful nation in the world, with the largest, most innovative economy and the deadliest military.
Recently promoted in March, the 60-year-old is the paramount political and military leader of China. Xi exercises near dictatorial control over 1.3 billion people (close to 20% of the world's population). China has the world's largest central bank, with $3.5 trillion in assets -- and owns some $1.3 trillion in U.S. securities, making it the largest foreign shareholder of U.S. debt. Along with India, the country is predicted to overtake the U.S. in aggregate GDP in coming decades; it is currently $8.2 trillion. There are 122 billionaires in the country, up from zero one decade ago. In addition to his title of general secretary of the Communist Party in China, Xi is also president of the People's Republic of China and the chairman of the Central Military Commission.
The world's most powerful woman is the backbone of the 27-member European Union and carries the fate of the euro on her shoulders as Germany's chancellor. Merkel's hard-line austerity prescription for easing the European debt crisis has been challenged by both hard-hit southern countries and the more affluent north, most particularly French President Francois Hollande. Merkel is fresh off a commanding reelection victory, and has served as chancellor since 2005; the first woman in the position. Merkel has earned the top spot on the FORBES list of Most Powerful Women In The World for eight of the past 10 years.
Gates is the wealthiest man in the U.S., despite his past gifts of more than $28 billion to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. He bolstered his foundation's efforts to eradicate polio in April, securing $335 million in pledges to the cause from six billionaire comrades, including $100 million each from Mexico's Carlos Slim and New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg. Shares of Microsoft jumped in late August on news that Steve Ballmer will step down as CEO; Gates will remain chairman of the software company he cofounded with Paul Allen in 1975. He and fellow Most Powerful Warren Buffett have thus far convinced over 100 billionaires to sign on to the Giving Pledge, a promise to donate at least half one's net worth to charity.
Big Ben is stepping down as of Jan. 31, 2014, and Janet Yellen has been nominated to lead the Fed next year. Bernanke has served as chairman during some of the biggest financial challenges since the Depression. The former Princeton professor’s decisive actions and policies helped to avert a global economic meltdown during late 2000s fiscal crisis, and jump-started a still-moderate U.S. recovery. The American economy's "adult in the room" has said that there is only so much the Fed can do; politicians are the ones with the power to keep us from going over a fiscal cliff.
Duke heads the world's No. 1 retailer ($470 billion in revenues in 2012) and biggest private employer (2.2 million employees). Wal-Mart can make or break a company simply by deciding to stock its products. Last year, Sweden's $785 billion-in-assets sovereign wealth fund (none bigger) dropped its Wal-Mart stock -- reportedly worth about $140 billion -- on advice from its Ethical Council that cited a "serious and systematic abuse of workers' rights."