Why the Dow Fell Today


The market was mixed today as the Dow and S&P 500 fell, but the Nasdaq gained a bit:



Ending Value

Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI)

-55.78 [-0.45%]


Nasdaq (INDEX: ^IXIC)

+4.36 [+0.16%]


S&P 500 (INDEX: ^GSPC)

-3.25 [-0.25%]


If you've kept up on the day's news, you may be surprised that only the Nasdaq gained today. After all, the biggest news of the day was positive: December jobs numbers were better than expected. The U.S. added 200,000 jobs (212,000 in the private sector minus 12,000 lost in the government). The resulting unemployment rate dropped to 8.5%.

So why did the Dow and S&P 500 drop? Some will blame the specter of Europe for the fall, but I don't think there's any one reason -- just the complex inter-workings of millions of individual transactions. Rather than focus on that, let's look at how individual companies did.

In the Dow, 22 out of 30 stocks lost ground today. The biggest drops were from AT&T [-2.4%], Alcoa (NYS: AA) [-2.1%], and Bank of America (NYS: BAC) [-2.1%]. Note that Alcoa reports earnings on Monday to kick off the latest earnings season. Bank of America's drop comes as the White House refuted speculation of a huge mortgage-refinancing program (the speculation had led Bank of America shares to pop 8.6% yesterday). Rumors giveth and they taketh away.

Meanwhile, tech kingpin Microsoft led the winners with a 1.5% gain.

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At the time thisarticle was published Anand Chokkaveluand The Motley Fool own shares of Microsoft and Bank of America.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of and creating a bull call spread position in Microsoft. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insightsmakes us better investors. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy.

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