The Dow's Losing Streak Continues

Just when you thought everything was looking great, the stock market is making you think twice. After flirting with multiyear highs, the Dow Jones Industrials (INDEX: ^DJI) have fallen for three consecutive days, and with the average down 72 points just before 11 a.m. EDT today, it looks like that streak may extend to four.

It's hard to pinpoint any one culprit for the malaise. On one hand, new home sales rose in July, supporting the idea that the housing market is finally recovering. The rebound in housing optimism has been a big part of why Dow component Home Depot (NYS: HD) has managed to perform so well lately, with the stock up slightly again this morning. But the prices of those new homes fell during the month, failing to confirm the turnaround that so many homeowners with underwater mortgages really need to see.

But overall, macroeconomic challenges have translated to specific headwinds for certain companies, and weak performance has pushed many stocks down. Hewlett-Packard (NYS: HPQ) is today's best example, falling more than 6% after announcing earnings last night that left investors wondering how the company will manage to survive a PC market that shows ever-worsening signs of decline. HP's news also has substantial implications for chip maker Intel (NAS: INTC) , which despite attempts to diversify its business still remains highly dependent on PC-related chip sales. Intel fell more than 2%.

If the damage were isolated to tech, it'd be easier to dismiss it. But other signs abound. Boeing (NYS: BA) lost more than 2.5% today on news that airline Qantas cancelled its order for 35 of Boeing's Dreamliner 787 aircraft, a contract that was worth $8.5 billion. Combined with compensation that Boeing will have to pay Qantas for production delays, the move is a big hit for the aircraft maker, but it shows how economic weakness can ripple throughout the economy.

Calls for further stimulus reflect the pessimism in the economy, but the Fed can't solve the market's woes. Eventually, businesses have to step up and earn their profits if they expect to succeed.

Break the streak
A long string of declines can get you down. But the right long-term perspective can make things a lot easier. If you can ignore some of the noise and focus on making the right strategic decisions for your portfolio, you'll do a lot better.

Part of succeeding with that is getting the best information you can find. For instance, Intel may be down from weak PC demand, but it has a lot of irons in the fire. Get the full scoop by reading through our top tech analysts' thoughts on Intel here.

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Fool contributor Dan Caplinger doesn't own shares of the companies mentioned. You can follow him on Twitter @DanCaplinger. The Motley Fool owns shares of Intel. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Home Depot and Intel. 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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