Why the Dow Fell Today

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The Dow suffered its worst loss of the year and was down for the fifth straight session. Here's how it and the three major indexes ended the day:

Index

Gain (Loss)

% Change

Ending Value

Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI) (213.66)(1.65%)12,715.93
Nasdaq (INDEX: ^IXIC) (55.86)(1.83%)2,991.22
S&P 500 (INDEX: ^GSPC) (23.61)(1.71%)1,358.59

Why the carnage today?

There wasn't any big precipitating news except the same old European concerns -- this time involving rising Spanish and Italian bond yields. There also could have been some spillover from Friday's jobs report and some momentum from the four past down days. But ultimately (as always), the reason for the drop of a complex marketplace is elusive.


More important for individual investors is earnings season, which semi-officially kicked off after hours today, with Dow component Alcoa's report. That report, at least, was quite favorable. Its shares are up 5.6% in after-hours trading as I write this on the back of an unexpected profit of $0.09 a share.(Wall Street expected a $0.03 loss.) 

Google, JPMorgan Chase, and Wells Fargo are other notables reporting later this week.

With the market having some off days and with companies starting to report earnings, it's a good time to go to your Watchlist and look for strong companies selling off for temporary reasons -- like a bad earnings report or a general market fall.

Looking at the list of Dow components, Bank of America (NYS: BAC) is down the most (11.8%) in these past five down days. I'm bullish on it, but it's only for those who can tolerate a lot of risk. Looking further down the list for safer droppers, Disney (NYS: DIS) , down 6.5%, is always worth looking at. Remember, though, to keep perspective and not to get carried away. It's been only a few down days, and the Dow's still up for the year. Pay less attention to the market and more to buying companies you believe in for reasonable-to-cheap prices.  

For more ideas, check out our brand new free report: "5 Stocks Investors Need to Watch This Earnings Season." It details what to look for from Apple and four other must-watch companies as they report their latest results. Access it now.

At the time this article was published Anand Chokkaveluowns shares of Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, and Walt Disney. He also owns warrants in JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo and long-dated options in Bank of America. The Motley Fool owns shares of Google, Wells Fargo, and Apple and has created a covered strangle position in Wells Fargo.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of Wells Fargo, Apple, Google, and Walt and creating a bull call spread position in Apple. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy. We Fools may not 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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