These Sectors Are Killing the Dow Today

Believe it or not, a drop of more than 1% for the Dow Jones Industrials (INDEX: ^DJI) is actually a vast improvement over where the stock market stood earlier today. Having been down almost 200 points earlier, the market has actually rebounded pretty sharply from its lows.

But when you look more closely at the Dow, you can see particular areas of weakness:

  • Old-school industrial stocks are under the most pressure. Alcoa (NYS: AA) and Caterpillar (NYS: CAT) are both down more than 2%, with Caterpillar facing ongoing labor strife in addition to fears about increasingly unfavorable macroeconomic conditions around the world. Alcoa, meanwhile, remains hurt by the ongoing slump in aluminum demand -- something that will take a strong economic rebound to fix.

  • Banks are also among the hardest-hit stocks today. In addition to Europe's woes, Bank of America (NYS: BAC) is taking criticism for following through on its settlement with government regulators by attempting to modify underwater mortgages for delinquent homeowners. With the intent to mail out more than 200,000 letters, some see the bank as rewarding those who've given up trying to pay, at the expense of those who've acted in good faith to try to meet their mortgage obligations.

On the other hand, some stocks stand out from their peers in their weakness. For instance, Hewlett-Packard (NYS: HPQ) continues to struggle, off 2.5% as it tries to tackle the problem of finding a new path. With huge business divisions, there's no quick fix to restructure and move forward swiftly; any major changes will take years to implement and come to fruition. HP has the tools to succeed, but investors will have to wait to see if it has the determination.

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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 Bank of America. 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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