Why the Dow Fell Today

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The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI) just barely extended its losing streak to a third down day.

Index

Change

Ending Value

Dow Jones Industrial Average-14.61 [-0.11%]13,060.14
S&P 500 (INDEX: ^GSPC) -0.88[-0.06%]1,398.08

Yesterday the market fell after ADP released its employment report that showed employment numbers rising by 209,000 in March, below February's gain of 230,000. Today, the jobs news continued, though it was slightly better than analysts expected. At 8:30 a.m. ET, the Department of Labor reported that unemployment claims fell to 357,000 from last week's 363,000. Analysts were expecting 360,000. Reports come tomorrow on the March unemployment rate and nonfarm payrolls, and analysts are expecting the Bureau of Labor statistics to report growth of 210,000 jobs for March.

In other news, traders were eyeing the clock all afternoon in anticipation of a long weekend. The market is closed tomorrow, and numerous analysts said they're "looking forward to catching up on their reading." There was no other real news on the day.


Top winner
Today's top Dow stock was Home Depot (NYS: HD) , up 1.54% to $50.62. The company has a slight tailwind behind it, as three weeks ago the Department of Housing and Urban Development reported that building permits rose 5% month over month in February to a seasonally adjusted 717,000. That's up 34% from last February's 534,000. Fool analyst Sean Williams recently called Home Depot a great dividend stock you could buy right now. He believes Home Depot will do well no matter which way housing numbers go, as any activity in the housing market is good for the company.

Top loser
Alcoa
(NYS: AA) was today's worst Dow stock, down 1.83% to $9.63. The company reported that it will cut its production capacity by 390,000 tonnes, down to 18 million tonnes per year. Alcoa's stock price has plummeted 45% over the past year as an oversupply in the alumina market has led to falling prices. The company reports earnings next Tuesday, and analysts expect a slight loss. But while the market has soured on Alcoa, Fool analyst David Lee Smith believes Alcoa's future may be even brighter than you think.

The best approach
If you only checked yesterday's close and today's, you wouldn't have thought there was any change. Watching the broad market each day is exciting, gut-wrenching, and stressful, but investing doesn't have to be. If you're in the mood to pick up a few great companies to buy for the long term, The Motley Fool has created a brand-new free report: "3 Stocks That Will Help You Retire Rich." It features three stocks to help you build a smarter retirement portfolio. Get access to the report and find out the name of these three companies. The report is free but won't be forever, so check it out today.

At the time this article was published Dan Dzombakowns shares of holds no other position in any company mentioned.Like his Facebook pageto follow his investing articles.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of Home Depot and ADP. 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.

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

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