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Why the Dow’s So Volatile Today

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    Dan Caplinger

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    Lately, investors have wanted to see the perfect Goldilocks scenario from the U.S. economy, with signs of growth but not too much growth. Today’s data on one measure of industrial factory activity pointed to the possibility of contraction in manufacturing, reinforcing the idea that terminating Federal Reserve programs designed to stimulate the economy would be premature. In addition, construction spending rose less sharply than expected. The combination of reports sent the bond market higher, with yields falling slightly and helping to send the Dow Jones Industrials (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) up more than 100 points at one point this morning. But by 10:50 a.m. EDT, the Dow had cut its gains to just 49 points, with the broader market actually down on the day.

    Two huge movers in the Dow pushed the average higher. Merck (NYSE: MRK  ) has gained 4.7% after reporting favorable study results for its lambrolizumab antibody-therapy cancer treatment. At the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology now taking place, several companies are presenting data on cancer treatments, so pharma investors need to keep their eyes open for big moves throughout the industry. For Merck’s part, good news in its pipeline is welcome, even though lambrolizumab itself is likely years away from potential consideration for FDA approval.

    Also bolstering the Dow, Intel (NASDAQ: INTC  ) has climbed 3.7%. The company got an analyst upgrade citing the company’s growth potential, and given Intel’s big win last week when Samsung said it would use an Intel chip in its next generation of its Galaxy Tab tablet, the chip giant appears to be answering concerns that it can’t grow in the post-PC era. Moreover, even after the move, Intel’s valuation still looks reasonable to anyone who thinks the company has any growth in its future.

    Finally, outside the Dow, Yelp (NYSE: YELP  ) fell more than 7% despite the company’s CFO saying that it is open to working with Facebook on its graph search offering. Yelp investors have been concerned ever since Facebook announced graph search, believing that if Facebook users rely on their friends’ recommendations on restaurants and other businesses, they won’t need Yelp’s service. After a big run-up following a favorable earnings report in May, Yelp needs to put this issue behind it in order to continue moving higher.

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