Markets Fall as Consumers Get Scared

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This morning the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan preliminary reading on consumer confidence was released, and it indicated that the average American is becoming gloomier about the health of the economy. The reading dropped from 78.6 in March to 72.3 in April. Economists were expecting the index to hold steady at 78.5. Other measures have also slipped recently: The barometer of current economic conditions fell from 90.7 to 84.8, and the gauge of consumer expectations dropped from 70.8 to a 64.

While the consumer sentiment report usually garners the most attention, investors should view the reports as a whole in order to gain a comprehensive picture of the economy. Right now, that picture doesn't look so good, therefore the markets are trading lower today. As of 12:55 p.m. EDT the Dow Jones Industrial Average is off by 25 points, or 0.17%. The S&P 500 is down 0.41%, while the NASDAQ has lost 0.34%.

Shares of JPMorgan Chase are flat, having recovered from earlier losses after the company announced earnings this morning. The company beat on earnings per share, but revenue decreased by 3% to $25.8 billion. Additionally, the company warned that net interest margins will continue to be pressured and will likely put strain on revenue in the future.

Fellow bank Wells Fargo also announced earnings this morning, and like JPMorgan, it indicated that revenue growth was an issue. Wells blamed its revenue shortfall on reduced mortgage loans during the quarter.

Shares of Bank of America are likely trading lower due to some of the comments made by Jamie Dimon and Wells Fargo's top management. All the big banks are essentially doing the same things and are exposed to the same risks. B of A was the best-performing Dow component in 2012, and it has risen more than 4% thus far in 2013. Its shares are down 0.8% today as investors lock in gains and flee the stock prior to its earnings release on April 17.

Shares of Cisco are down 1.2% this afternoon. There's little news on the company, but the stock did flirt with its 52-week high yesterday and has been on quite the run over the past few trading sessions. After closing at $20.57 on Monday, the stock rose 5.44% to a closing price of $21.69 yesterday. Today's pullback is likely the result of traders taking profits before the weekend.

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The article Markets Fall as Consumers Get Scared originally appeared on

Fool contributor Matt Thalman owns shares of Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase. The Motley Fool recommends Cisco Systems and Wells Fargo. The Motley Fool owns shares of Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, and Wells Fargo.  Check back Monday through Friday as Matt explains what caused the Dow's winners and losers of the day, and every Saturday for a weekly recap. Follow Matt on Twitter: @mthalman5513.  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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