Why the Dow Fell Today

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The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI) finished down today as durable-goods orders came in below analyst expectations and worries spread that Portugal and Spain will need to restructure its debt, heightening worries of slowing global growth.

Index

Change

Ending Value

Dow Jones Industrial Average-71.52 [-0.54%]13,126.21
S&P 500 (INDEX: ^GSPC) -6.98 [0.49%]1,405.54

This morning at 8:30, the Department of Commerce reported that orders for durable goods (goods with a long life -- for example, appliances, cars, and jets) rose a seasonally adjusted 2.2% in February. However, economists had expected 2.9%, and the market fell on the miss.

After months of worries over whether Greece would default, a bailout package was recently passed, and all seemed well in Europe. Now new fears have arisen on the continent, as Portugal's economy is looking weak, and investors fear it could default. That's a problem for Spain, as many of its banks own Portuguese bonds. Fears picked up today, when Citigroup's chief economist said Spain is likely to require an international bailout much like the one Greece had. Those comments follow words over the weekend from Italy's prime minister, who said that Spain "certainly made profound reform of the labor market, but it did not pay the same attention to public finances" -- suggesting that Spain's finances are not in good shape.


Top winner
Bank of America
(NYS: BAC) was today's top Dow stock, up 1.56% to $9.75. Since passing the Federal Reserve's annual stress test two weeks ago, Bank of America's stock has been on fire, rising 22% since then. Our analysts believe this rise could continue. Specifically, Fool analyst Anand Chokkavelu believes Bank of America could hit $20 and explains how he thinks it will happen. Fool analyst John Maxfield also believes now is the time to buy Bank of America.

Top loser
Caterpillar
  (NYS: CAT) was today's worst Dow stock, down 3.52% to $104.26. Caterpillar makes some of the largest durable goods, and with durable-goods orders missing expectations on the same day that new worries arose over Europe, investors dumped the stock. The growing fear in Europe adds to a negative global sentiment first sparked last week by purchasing managers' surveys in Asia and Europe, which both forecasted slowing growth. While the stock is down, Fool analyst David Lee Smith believes Caterpillar is stronger than investors give it credit for.

The best approach
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At the time this article was published Dan Dzombakowns shares of Bank of America, but he holds no other position in any company mentioned.Like his Facebook pageto follow his investing articles. The Motley Fool owns shares of Bank of America. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insightsmakes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days.

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