The Cause of Today's 111-Point Dow Drop

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This has been a great year so far for Wall Street: The Dow Jones Industrial Average is already up more than 11% in a year characterized by record-setting highs and massive corporate profits. A bullish market is great, but it can be tougher for investors to stomach disappointing news in the middle of such a run-up. Wednesday's payroll figures -- showing private-sector employment that rose by nearly 160,000 jobs in March -- didn't quite live up to Mr. Market's demands.

Throw in some unwelcome news from the Federal Reserve, and you have the makings of a 100-plus-point drop. The Dow ended 111 points, or 0.8%, lower, at 14,550.

Only 10% of Dow stocks advanced today, and Merck ended the day as one of those cherished few. Its 1% rise was good enough for tops in the Dow, as investors flocked to the stock's 3.9% dividend. The market may be cheering encouraging new research from the company, making inroads on a sleep drug that doesn't inhibit patient memory or attention, two common areas that today's sleep aids affect. 

Despite paying a 4.1% dividend of its own, Intel , regrettably, lacks any promising leads for new life-changing products of its own. Heck, it can barely keep up with its competitors. The stock, down 25% in the past year, fell 1.9% today, after the departing CEO's 2012 remuneration came in at around $19 million. The 10% pay raise came the same year EPS slipped 10%.

But Wednesday's biggest blue-chip decliners were financials: JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America slumped 3% and 2.8%, respectively, on concerns about the private sector's robustness. Perhaps a larger issue concerning the big banks today is the longevity of the Fed's bond-buying program, intended to stabilize a recovering U.S. economy. A top Fed official told an audience today that the central bank may need to ease up on the bond purchases later in the year as the economy strengthens.

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The article The Cause of Today's 111-Point Dow Drop originally appeared on

Fool contributor John Divine has no position in any stocks mentioned.  You can follow him on Twitter, @divinebizkid , and on Motley Fool CAPS, @TMFDivine . The Motley Fool recommends Intel and owns shares of Bank of America, Intel, and JPMorgan Chase. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't 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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