Stocks Fall to End Strong Third Quarter


The last trading day of the third quarter has markets heading lower, continuing their downtrend. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI) is down 0.37%, and the S&P 500 (INDEX: ^GSPC) has fallen 0.42%.

A slowdown in consumer spending growth didn't help the markets this morning as the U.S. Department of Commerce said purchases rose just 0.1% in August after adjusting for inflation. The other big-picture headline of the day was news that most Spanish banks are solvent, though they did have a 59.3 billion Euro capital shortfall.

Intel (NAS: INTC) is one of the Dow's biggest decliners a day after it unveiled a line of new tablets using the company's chips. The market was unimpressed, and the company will have to prove its worth in this market before investors will price any growth into the stock.

McDonalds (NYS: MCD) fell 1.7% after Janney Capital Markets' analysts downgraded the stock to neutral on concerns over sales growth. The analysts think September's same-store sales growth could be the weakest of 2012.

Cisco Systems (NAS: CSCO) is up 1.9% after a number of analysts upped their price targets and reiterated buy ratings. The stock trades at just more than nine times forward earnings estimates, and analysts think networking solutions aren't appropriately priced into the stock.

Analysts are ruling the day today, but next week we'll enter earnings season, when the rubber hits the road. Then we can judge how the muddled economic data of the last month has affected company's bottom lines.

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Fool contributor Travis Hoium manages an account that owns shares of Intel. You can follow Travis on Twitter at @FlushDrawFool, check out his personal stock holdings, or follow his CAPS picks at TMFFlushDraw.The Motley Fool owns shares of Cisco Systems, Intel, and McDonald's. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of McDonald's and Intel. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

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