What Drove the Dow Lower Today

U.S. stocks were seeing red today, as indexes sold off across the board despite a relatively positive report on jobless claims from the Department of Labor. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI) finished in negative territory for the second consecutive day, dropping nearly 62 points, or 0.5%. Other major U.S. indexes fared worse: The Nasdaq and S&P 500 closed 1.2% and 0.8%, respectively, during the trading session.

In a sign of possible investor anxiety before tomorrow's non-farm payroll figures, the market's "fear gauge," the VIX (INDEX: ^VIX) , spiked 4% today. Investors have been somewhat anxious about what some view as a "softening" of the already-tepid recovery, with one report already detailing slowing manufacturing growth during April. Tomorrow's payroll figures will give investors another key insight into whether the rally in U.S. markets is indeed sustainable.

Around the markets
On a light news day, several Dow components took some pretty sharp haircuts, with Alcoa, Bank of America (NYS: BAC) , Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard, and Intel all losing more than 1% during today's sessions. However, those drops pale in comparison with Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (NAS: GMCR) , which ended today down nearly 50%. Alarm bells rang as the company issued disappointing full-year guidance, sending investors scrambling for parachutes as the stock nosedived at the start of trading and moved steadily lower during the daily session.

On the earnings front, shares of Prudential Financial (NYS: PRU) took a beating today to the tune of 10% as the company reported quarterly figures below analyst estimates. The company took it on the chin on several key derivative positions, especially in the Japanese yen, during the quarter, resulting in a loss of nearly $1 billion. On a more positive note, Whole Foods Market (NAS: WFM) rose more than 7% as earnings exceeded Wall Street estimates.

What it all means
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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 Intel, Bank of America, and Whole Foods Market.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Whole Foods Market, and Intel 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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