It was a crazy week for the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI) , which seesawed up or down more than 1% in four of the five trading days. Perhaps this kind of volatility was overdue -- as my colleague Eric Bleeker explained last month, by mid-March the Dow swung more than 1% in either direction only 7.5% of 2012's trading days, versus 35% of trading days for the entirety of 2011.
The week started off poorly as investors got a chance to react to last week's March jobs report, which disappointed. Of course, debt-plagued Europe continued to make headlines as well, with investors focusing a keen eye on Spanish and Italian bond yields. In China, first-quarter GDP growth numbers came in below expectations at 8.1%, the slowest GDP growth in China in nearly three years.
But while these factors helped the Dow post its worst week of the year so far, there were some individual stocks that fared even worse.
Percent Change This Week
Bank of America (NYS: BAC)
Chevron (NYS: CVX)
General Electric (NYS: GE)
Bank of America, by far the Dow's best performer so far in 2012, had a rough week. The company is perhaps the most sensitive to the overall economy on the Dow, and the March jobs numbers combined with increased concern over Europe helped push the bank down 6% this week. Of Bank of America's loss this week, 5.3% came on Friday alone, despite solid earnings from fellow big banks JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo (NYS: WFC) , both of which beat expectations.
Despite announcing on Tuesday that it expects first-quarter earnings to be higher than a year ago, Chevron lost nearly 4% on the week. The company continues to be hurt by low natural-gas prices, which plummeted to 10-year lows this week. Chevron said the average natural-gas price that it realizes dropped 33% from a year ago and 25% from the fourth quarter. The world's No. 3 oil producer also said the shutdown of its oil field offshore Brazil would cost the company about 33,000 barrels of oil per day going forward after the first quarter.
General Electric rounds out the Dow's three biggest losers, ending the week down just over 3%. The international conglomerate is one of the most exposed Dow companies to the global economy, so news of a slowdown in China and increased concerns over Europe certainly played a hand in pushing GE down this week.
The big picture
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At the time thisarticle was published Brendan Byrnes owns shares of Wells Fargo. The Motley Fool owns shares of Wells Fargo, Bank of America, and JPMorgan Chase and has created a covered strangle position in Wells Fargo.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of Wells Fargo and Chevron. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insightsmakes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days.
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