What's Behind the Dow's Triple-Digit Drop


As much as U.S. investors have paid attention to goings-on around the world in recent months, when push comes to shove, it's all about what's happening close to home. This morning's much-anticipated jobs report disappointed investors, with the unemployment rate mired at 8.2% and only 80,000 new jobs created in June. As a result, the stock market quickly sold off, and just before 10:45 a.m. EDT, the Dow Jones Industrials (INDEX: ^DJI) were off almost 150 points.

Among Dow stocks, the usual suspects reacted badly to the employment report. Alcoa (NYS: AA) and Caterpillar (NYS: CAT) both fell around 3%, as it becomes apparent that both companies now face the double danger of slowdowns both in formerly fast-growing emerging markets around the world as well as in their home economy. Until economic activity picks back up convincingly, Caterpillar and Alcoa could continue to suffer for quite a while.

Hewlett-Packard (NYS: HPQ) also declined around 3% this morning. A report from DigiTimes suggests that the company may be planning to release a tablet based on ARM Holdings' chip architecture using the soon-to-be-released Windows RT operating system. Yet the report goes against an earlier announcement last month that the company wouldn't go in this direction, again raising questions about the company's leadership and strategic direction. Until HP figures out whether to remain an important hardware provider or to move toward higher-margin IT services, shares will continue to whipsaw back and forth.

Finally, JPMorgan Chase (NYS: JPM) dropped about 1% after it closed several of its European money market funds to new investors. The notice from the bank pointed out that the recent rate cut from the European Central Bank raised the possibility of the funds producing negative returns for investors. That's a concern that has plagued U.S. money market funds for quite a while and has made alternatives to such funds look much more attractive.

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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 @DanCaplinger. The Motley Fool owns shares JPMorgan Chase. 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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