If the markets were down today, there would be plenty of obvious culprits.
The eurozone's crawl to the fiscal precipice continues as Spain received another credit downgrade, causing the euro to tumble. Unlike Greece, which has an economy smaller than Dallas-Fort Worth and is poised to become a sacrificial lamb (gyro?) offered to the austerity gods, Spain's departure from the monetary union threatens unraveling the whole currency. Spain will issue more debt at roughly six-month highs as it attempts to recapitalize Bankia. Unsurprisingly, Banco Santander (NYS: STD) is taking a hit, with shares down more than 5%.
Back in the U.S., a smaller-than-anticipated decline of home prices was offset by worsening consumer confidence. And even though the Case-Schiller home price index came out ahead of expectations, it has seen a more than 30% decline since March and touched post-financial-crisis lows for the quarter. Cratering consumer confidence is problematic since tepid demand remains the largest impediment to recovery, and roughly 70% of economic activity is consumer spending. With signs pointing to growing pessimism, consumers may continue to focus on paying down debt instead of purchasing goods and services.
With that in mind, let's take a closer look at how the major indexes are faring and drill down on a few stocks making headlines.
Gain / Loss
Gain / Loss %
Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI)
Nasdaq (INDEX: ^IXIC)
S&P 500 (Index : ^GSPC)
Source: Yahoo! Finance.
Despite all of the bad news, the three major indexes are up, with the Nasdaq seeing the largest gains. The Dow has only five of its components in the red, while 12 have over a one-percentage-point gain, including Bank of America (NYS: BAC) , where investors appear unfazed about the company's exposure to mounting European troubles. As the week continues, a boatload of economic data will be released, including new unemployment numbers, so expect volatility to return as May draws to a close.
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