What Drove the Dow From Its Highs Today

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI) retreated from the four-year highs it touched yesterday, falling 10.8 points, or 0.1%. Other U.S. equity indexes also produced relatively flat results. The S&P 500 also fell 0.3% today, while the Nasdaq rose 0.3%.

A weak reading from the ADP private sector jobs report forced markets lower at the opening of the trading day, where both the S&P and Dow lingered throughout the day. The report tallied private-sector growth of only 119,000 new positions, substantially below the expected gain of 201,000. The negative report also caused a spike in the market's oft-cited "fear gauge," or the VIX (INDEX: ^VIX) , which rose nearly 1.7% on the day.

And while this all does amount to a largely negative day in U.S. markets, look to the release of the U.S. Labor Department jobs report this Friday to see whether today's negativity is completely deserved.

Around the markets
Although the broader markets remained relatively flat, individual stocks certainly plenty of drama for investors. In one of the week's most-watched storylines, nat-gas player Chesapeake Energy (NYS: CHK) cratered another 15% after the company released earnings that missed analyst estimates on both the top and bottom lines. The company's stock spiked to the tune of a 6.3% gain on news that its widely criticized CEO, Aubrey McClendon, has agreed to step down as chairman of the board but will remain acting CEO, although after today's abysmal performance, his stint at the helm looks all the more tenuous.

On a more positive note, semiconductor play Broadcom (NAS: BRCM) rose 0.5% after reporting better-than-expected revenue and earnings for the quarter. Going into the announcement, some industry observers wondered whether the company would face the same fate as Qualcomm, whose stock sold off sharply after it issued disappointing guidance following its stellar earnings report earlier this month.

One of the most interesting moves of the day occurred after the market closed today. Heavily shorted Green Mountain Coffee Roasters' (NAS: GMCR) stock fell off more than 40% in after-hours trading after the company reduced its fiscal 2012 outlook because of slowing sales of its popular K-Cup and Keurig coffee machines.

Foolish bottom line
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At the time thisarticle was published Andrew Tonner held no financial position in any of the companies mentioned in this article. You can follow Andrew and all of his Foolish writing onTwitterat@AndrewTonner. The Motley Fool owns shares of Qualcomm.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters and Chesapeake Energy and creating a lurking gator position in Green Mountain Coffee Roasters. 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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