Why the Dow's on a Losing Streak

In this exceptionally strong year for stocks, three-day losing streaks have been relatively few and far between. But the Dow is aiming at making it three days in a row of declines, as investors apparently worry about the Fed's reluctance to step in with more monetary stimulus and its impact on a shaky economy. Yet despite the weakness, both gold and oil rose, with the iPath S&P GSCI Crude Oil Index ETF (NYS: OIL) rising more than 1% on hopes that falling jobless claims will boost demand for gasoline. Still, at around 2:45 p.m. EDT, the Dow Jones Industrials (INDEX: ^DJI) were down 34 points to 13,040.

Among Dow stocks, Home Depot (NYS: HD) bucked the downtrend, rising more than 1%. Traders pointed to a huge options trade betting on the stock to make a further 4% up move in the next two weeks, but longer-term investors should focus on the stock's multiyear highs coming from renewed hope for the housing sector.

American Express (NYS: AXP) was also up sharply despite some controversy about gift-card regulation. The state of New Jersey passed a law requiring merchants to obtain zip codes from buyers of gift cards, to which AmEx responded by pulling gift cards from New Jersey retailers. The state argues that the move will help it hold unused balances as unclaimed funds subject to state recovery laws, rather than potentially resulting in profit for card issuers.

Finally, Coca-Cola (NYS: KO) fell modestly after announcing it was pulling out of an advocacy group supporting controversial self-defense laws. It may seem odd that the beverage giant was part of the group in the first place, but companies consistently balance their own interests against customer perceptions -- and with Florida's "stand your ground" law raising strong emotions on both sides, Coke's pullout shows where that balance lies.

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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 Coca-Cola. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Home Depot and Coca-Cola, as well as writing a covered strangle position in American Express. 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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