What's Making the Dow Drop Today

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
Before you go close icon

After paying so much attention to global economics, the stock market turned back to the U.S., as budget and other fiscal matters took center stage. Fallout over the Obama administration's budget proposal continued to circulate as Congress mulls whether to extend payroll tax cuts through 2012. Just before 1:45 p.m. EST, the Dow Jones Industrials (INDEX: ^DJI) were down 44 to 12,830, while the S&P 500 was down six points at 1,346.

Among stocks in the Dow, Wal-Mart (NYS: WMT) rose about 0.5%. Rising retail sales in January likely helped the company, as the Commerce Department reported higher demand, especially for electronics and sporting goods. Yet as the domestic competitive picture remains tight, with Target (NYS: TGT) starting to emphasize groceries as part of its response to Wal-Mart's supercenters, Wal-Mart is stepping up its attempts to grow in overseas markets like China.

Merck (NYS: MRK) also rose slightly, despite some bad news on the European front. According to the new austerity pact that Greek lawmakers agreed to earlier this week, the nation must cut its spending on drugs by about $1.3 billion, forcing patients to make larger co-payments. The move is expected to spur an increase in demand for generic drugs, hurting name-brand manufacturers like Merck. Even worse, if the move is successful in Greece, other cash-strapped governments may try to follow the country's example.

Finally, AT&T (NYS: T) dropped about 0.4% after reports that the coming update to the iPad will include models that run on the carrier's 4G wireless network. At least until now, telecom companies selling 3G-capable iPads haven't subsidized their sales with discounts -- in fact, those iPads have sold at a premium to base WiFi-only versions. With data-only plans costing a lot less than voice plans, lack of subsidies isn't likely to change anytime soon.

Stocks don't always go up, but the best stocks only pause in their general upward momentum. To learn about some promising stock prospects, let me invite you to read The Motley Fool's latest special report and discover three stocks with potential for huge gains over the long haul. It's free, but don't wait -- click here and read it today.

At the time this article was published Fool contributor Dan Caplinger doesn't own shares of the companies mentioned. You can follow him on Twitter here. The Motley Fool owns shares of Wal-Mart. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of and creating a diagonal call position in Wal-Mart. 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 Fool has a disclosure policy.

Copyright © 1995 - 2012 The Motley Fool, LLC. All rights reserved. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Read Full Story

Want more news like this?

Sign up for Finance Report by AOL and get everything from business news to personal finance tips delivered directly to your inbox daily!

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.

From Our Partners