Why the Dow's Struggling Again

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It's the same old song for the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI) -- another day in the red. Worries over Europe continue to ail investors as Spanish bond rates rose, and disappointing manufacturing data weighed further on stocks. The Philadelphia Fed manufacturing index unexpectedly dropped to -5.8, signaling a contraction in that region for the first time in eight months. Analysts had expected another month of solid gains at a figure of 8.8.

Despite the off day for the Dow, which was down 0.77% at 2:50 p.m. ET, it was still outperforming the S&P 500, down 0.90%, and the Nasdaq, which had lost 1.4%.

Shares of Caterpillar (NYS: CAT) tumbled nearly 4% after reporting slower equipment sales in the three months ending April 12. The manufacturer said sales grew just 12%, less than the 18% and 21% growth in its two previous reporting periods ending in February and March. North America continued to be the company's strongest market with 32% growth in revenue, while Latin America was the only region that shrank, dropping by 13%.


JPMorgan Chase (NYS: JPM) continues to suffer following last week's revelation of a multibillion-dollar trading loss. Shares have fallen more than 3% as the loss on a derivatives position has jumped from $2 billion to $3 billion. When CEO Jamie Dimon announced the losses last week, he had said they could double within the next few quarters. Earlier in the week, Dimon survived an attempt to oust him from the chairmanship at the company's annual shareholder meeting, and the company is now under investigation by the FBI and SEC for the bad trade.

There was one big winner on the Dow today. Wal-Mart (NYS: WMT) jumped 5% after beating earnings and sales estimates this morning. The retail giant earned $1.09 per share ahead of expectations of $1.04, while revenue came in at $112.3 billion, almost $2 billion above estimates. Domestic same-store sales improved by 2.6%, also better than expected. The report was welcome news after its shares dropped nearly 10% following a New York Times report on widespread bribery at its Mexico subsidiary, the scope of which the company said may broaden.

Finally, all eyes are on the Facebook IPO set for tomorrow. Many observers believe funds are dumping shares of Apple (NAS: AAPL) , which is down more than 2%, and other tech stocks, to make room for the social network's stock. Facebook shares are expected to start trading between $34 and $38.

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At the time this article was published Fool contributorJeremy Bowmanowns shares of Apple. The Motley Fool owns shares of JPMorgan Chase and Apple. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Apple, creating a bull call spread position in Apple, and creating a diagonal call position in Wal-Mart Stores. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

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