Even though it was a relatively quiet week in terms of economic data pertaining to the U.S., all of the major indexes posted healthy gains. Similar to two weeks ago, the Nasdaq was the best performer, gaining 1.71%, or 57 points, over the past five trading sessions, and while the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average (Dow Jones Indices:.DJI) surpassed their milestones during the previous week, the technology-heavy index broke the 3,400 barrier this week. While the S&P rose higher by 1.19%, the blue-chip index increased by 144 points, or 0.96%, and now sits at the all-time high closing price of 15,118.
Before we hit the Dow Jones Industrial Average (Dow Jones Indices:.DJI) losers, let’s look at the big winner of the week. UnitedHealth Group Inc. (NYSE:UNH) shares rose by 6.77% despite falling as much as 1.26% on Thursday. The main catalyst this past week came on Wednesday, when the White House released a mountain of data showing the massive inconsistences within the health-care industry. Investors cheered the news, because some believe the different prices charged by different hospitals throughout the country for the same procedure will soon be a thing of the past, a move that should help the insurance companies through lower payouts.
The big losers
In a surprising turn of events, shares of Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) ended this past week lower by 2.64%, after being the best-performing Dow Jones Industrial Average (Dow Jones Indices:.DJI) component the prior week, gaining 5.34%. Not only that, but this was also the first-full week loss shares posted since the third week of February.
This past week, the company announced that it’s again going to guarantee revenue for ads appearing on Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO) websites. Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO) have been involved in a search partnership for a number of years now and have previously had a per-search revenue guarantee. So while this announcement may not be something investors liked reading about, it shouldn’t have been a shock to anyone.
Also this week, the European Union agreed to hear Cisco Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ:CSCO)‘s appeal against Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT)’s acquisition of Skype Technologies. Cisco Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ:CSCO) claims the EU should have placed restrictions on the terms of the $8.5 billion buyout in which Microsoft would be required to open Skype’s platform to rivals’ products and allow them to work with the video technology.
But the Dow component that ended the week as the biggest loser was McDonald’s Corporation (NYSE:MCD), after shares fell 2.64%. Investors began selling off shares after the company released April sales figures. Although revenue increased in the U.S. market by 0.7%, globally sales fell 0.6% during the month. The company saw the largest decline in the European market, where sales fell 2.4%. Management, not wanting to waste a great scapegoat opportunity, even threw in the avian flu outbreak in China as one reason the monthly numbers were disappointing.