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It's been a fairly uneventful end to the week for stock markets. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI ) has yo-yoed around break-even since opening this morning and fell to a 0.23% loss near the end of trading. The S&P 500 (INDEX: ^GSPC ) has done a similar dance and is currently down 0.28%. Of course, chatter about the fiscal cliff still has the ear of traders, but the tone is pretty moderate. Today it was economic news that drove the market.
The big economic news was a consumer spending report that showed a 0.2% decline in spending in October. But Hurricane Sandy had a negative impact on spending in October, so we'll probably need to wait a few months to see if this is a blip or a trend.
Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT ) continued its decline, falling 1.3% today. The company has been hit by slow initial sales of Windows 8 and investors aren't giving the company much time to make inroads with this new product. I think the sell-off is far overdone and eventually investors will see value in the company's dominant market position in PCs and its $63.6 billion hoard of cash and investments. At least for the moment, Intel (Nasdaq: INTC ) is getting a break and is one of the Dow's biggest winners, up 0.9%.
On the plus side, Home Depot (NYSE: HD ) is up 0.9% as investors continue to bet on housing. Whether it's existing home sales or new construction, the housing market has been hot lately and Home Depot will certainly be one of the big winners if the trend continues. But like with most companies, the future depends on what happens with the pending fiscal cliff.
For Foolish investors with long-term horizons the current fiscal cliff negotiations allow for a perfect entry point into stocks. Companies like Microsoft, Intel, and 3M (NYSE: MMM ) are three Dow components that pay hefty dividends and will have huge upside if we avert the fiscal cliff and the economy continues to grow. The daily fear from traders can't mask the fact that economic indicators are strong and one critical piece of the economy, housing, is now back on its feet. That's bullish news for Foolish investors willing to take advantage of the short-term blips in the market.
If you're looking for some long-term investing ideas, let me invite you to read the Motley Fool's brand-new special report: "The 3 Dow Stocks Dividend Investors Need." It's absolutely free, so just click here and get your copy today.