Why the Dow Fell Today

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The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI) fell 0.5% to a four-month low following a sluggish April consumer-spending report and still more fun coming from the other side of the Atlantic: Greece's new Parliament failed to form a government, so it's back to the ballot boxes, and it's really beginning to look like the country may exit the eurozone. Although the current course of austerity was destroying its economy probably beyond any hope of a comeback, its exit from the eurozone could become a serious strain on the financial system.

Bank stocks, which had been under pressure lately over the European financial crisis and the fallout from JPMorgan Chase's (NYS: JPM) spectacular $2 billion trading loss, actually took the news in stride. JPMorgan hosted its annual meeting today, giving shareholders an opportunity to vent their frustration.

We also found out today that April's retail sales came in a bit light, growing just 0.1%. Clothing and home-improvement sales actually declined. Investors weren't taking any chances in advance of Home Depot's (NYS: HD) quarterly earnings announcement tomorrow, selling the stock off to the tune of 2.4%.


Economic bellwether Alcoa (NYS: AA) fell 2.4%, although auto sales aren't included in the retail report. Hewlett-Packard (NYS: HPQ) , which lost a court battle with the IRS, fell a total of 2.5%.

Given the troubles starting to bubble over in Europe, it's not inconceivable that we'll continue to see more economic and market volatility in the near term. It's important for us to remember, however, that as investors it's long-term performance that actually matters -- we could see some interesting bargains opening up.

If you're looking for a fast-growing company in an economy that's actually booming, The Motley Fool's chief investment officer picked his top stock for the year -- it's a company that's revolutionizing commerce in rapidly developing Latin American economies. For a limited time, you can get instant access to the name of this stock and a special report for free.

At the time this article was published Ilan Moscovitzdoesn't own shares of any company mentioned. You can follow him on Twitter, where he goes by@TMFDada. The Motley Fool owns shares of JPMorgan Chase.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of Home Depot. 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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