All Aboard Friday's Sinking Dow

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All the excitement of yesterday's rally has deflated from the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI) . The index has slid through the red for most of today and is down 84 points, or 0.64%, as of 2:15 p.m. EDT. Earnings season continues to weigh on the index; one of the world's top energy giants missed big today, leading the majority of Dow members downward. A few stocks have recorded nice gains, but on the whole, the Dow is ending this hurricane-shortened week on a dry note.

Election uncertainty
Markets are mired in uncertainty with Tuesday's U.S. presidential election almost here. Many investors seem to be waiting out the storm, although a report this morning detailing how job growth rose above forecasts briefly boosted the Dow at the start of trading. Nonetheless, Hurricane Sandy came back to dominate the energy sector on the day.

Chevron (NYS: CVX) reported earnings that fell well below EPS predictions, and the stock has led all Dow laggards, falling 2.95%. If that weren't enough, oil prices continue to fall today as industry insiders worry that the shutdown of East Coast refineries and gas stations due to Sandy's damage will hurt demand and back up supply. Oil hasn't been able to reach many customers in the Northeast, and the resulting gas shortages in New York and other locales have left both suppliers and customers hurting. ExxonMobil (NYS: XOM) followed its rival into the red, falling 1.34% so far.


Despite yesterday's PMI report of accelerated domestic manufacturing growth, industrials have also fallen today. Caterpillar (NYS: CAT) ranks among the Dow's losers today, as shares have fallen 1.7%. Fellow manufacturing companies DuPont (NYS: DD) and Alcoa (NYS: AA) have fallen 1.7% and 1.03%, respectively. The election seems likely to be hurting this sector, with the future of quantitative easing up in the air after the last two jobs reports turned up positive.

Pharmaceuticals have been a bright spot on this mostly dour day. Both Pfizer (NYS: PFE) and Merck (NYS: MRK) rank among Dow leaders, having gained 0.6% and 0.37%, respectively. The latter fell short on revenue in its quarterly report but exceeded earnings estimates.

Stocks may be down for now, but does manufacturing have a chance after the election? As one of today's biggest losers, Caterpillar is the market-share leader in an industry in which size matters, and its quality products, extensive service network, and unparalleled brand strength combine to give it solid competitive advantages. Read all about Caterpillar's strengths and weaknesses in our brand-new report. Just click here to access it now.

The article All Aboard Friday's Sinking Dow originally appeared on Fool.com.

Dan Carroll has no positions in the stocks mentioned above. The Motley Fool owns shares of ExxonMobil. Motley Fool newsletter services recommend Chevron. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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