Why the Dow's Tanking Today

Yesterday proved to be the calm before the storm, as stocks fell sharply on renewed concerns about Europe and the viability of the euro. Just after 2 p.m. EST, the Dow Jones Industrial (INDEX: ^DJI) was down 115 points to 12,177, while the S&P 500 fell back into negative territory for the year, dropping 12 points to 1,253.

Leading the declines were Alcoa (NYS: AA) and Bank of America (NYS: BAC) , both off more than 2%. Fears about the European economy have had an ongoing impact on the two companies, as the health of the European banking system raises concerns about B of A, while a European recession could put a crimp in Alcoa's recovery plans. Potentially boosting their declines is the fact that both of them have suffered huge drops in their share prices during 2011, so investors may be taking this last-minute opportunity to harvest tax losses by selling the stocks prior to the end of the year.

The sole gainer in the Dow early this afternoon was AT&T (NYS: T) , trading just barely above the unchanged line. Although the telecom giant gave up on its bid to buy T-Mobile, the stock remains the highest-yielding dividend payer in the Dow. Even more impressively, AT&T recently made it onto the prestigious Dividend Aristocrats list, which includes stocks that have raised their annual dividends every year for at least 25 years. By doing so, AT&T joins a number of other Dow stocks, including 3M (NYS: MMM) , Procter & Gamble (NYS: PG) , and ExxonMobil (NYS: XOM) .

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At the time thisarticle was published Fool contributor Dan Caplinger doesn't own shares of the companies mentioned. You can follow him on Twitter here. The Motley Fool owns shares of Bank of America. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of 3M and Procter & Gamble, as well as creating a diagonal call position in 3M. 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 Fool has a disclosure policy.

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