Why the Dow's Down Today
The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI) is currently down 35.08 points, or a 0.27% loss. Most financial news stories are focusing on the situation in Greece as the driver of today's market. The embattled country is in negotiations with European leaders on another bailout, but has yet to agree to austerity measures -- or budget cuts -- that are a condition of the country receiving more funds.
However, blaming Greece for falling markets seems more like a story of convenience that an actual market-moving action. Consider that the Greek subplot has hung over the markets for the entirety of 2012, yet the market has been stunningly steady across the beginnings of 2012. Last year, 35% of trading days, or 89 days in total, featured the Dow Jones up or down less than 1%. This year, only two out of 23 trading days have resulted in a move more than 1%. There has yet to be a day the Dow is down more than 0.58% this year!
While the Greek saga gets a lot of press, it's had little effect on the market this year. If investors are looking for a more important storyline in today's markets, I'd point them toward the mortgage settlement that looks close to being finalized. California, which has been a hold-out from negotiations in recent months, is back to making a deal. While the $25 billion settlement would be a blow to banking balance sheets, it'd also remove a good deal of uncertainty from large mortgage servicers like Bank of America (NYS: BAC) and Citigroup (NYS: C) . Both companies showed large gains when the mortgage lenders agreed to increase the settlement to $25 billion on Jan. 23.
So if you're watching the market today, remember that even if constant bickering over a Greek default might feel like it's causing instability, volatility has actually been fading since the new year began. Investors long ago realized Greece wasn't good for its debts, so whether the country technically defaults, reaches an agreement to pay back debt at pennies on the dollar, or gets bailed out again, investors appear to have moved on and made their peace with Greece's fiscal disaster.
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