Why the Dow's Sinking Fast This Morning

After a day of respite yesterday, the stock market returned to its downward path this morning as a poor reading from the Chicago Purchasing Managers' Index reignited fears that the Federal Reserve's recent new round of quantitative easing may not be enough to get the economy back on track. Moreover, although consumer sentiment rose in September, it didn't rise as much as many had hoped. As a result, the Dow Jones Industrials (INDEX: ^DJI) quickly fell more than 100 points within the first 15 minutes of trading and continue to trade sharply lower.

Among Dow stocks, Bank of America (NYS: BAC) fell about 1% after agreeing to settle a lawsuit with investors over its deal to acquire Merrill Lynch during the financial crisis. The bank will pay $2.43 billion to resolve allegations that it made misleading statements about the financial health of B of A and Merrill.

General Electric (NYS: GE) rose slightly as the company moves forward toward becoming a bigger player in the mining-equipment industry. Yet as Fool contributor Rich Smith pointed out yesterday, GE may be getting in at just the wrong time, as Caterpillar (NYS: CAT) just issued an earnings warning over weakness in the sector. Bad timing has plagued GE before, so it's not unreasonable to question the company's motivations this time around.

Finally, McDonald's (NYS: MCD) was the big loser on the day, falling nearly 3% after a Janney Capital analyst downgraded the stock. The analyst argues that McDonald's will have a tough time matching up to last year's figures in measuring same-store sales gains, and therefore the stock may have gotten ahead of itself in its recent run-up.

Markets rise and markets fall, but the long-run prospects for your stocks are what's most important. For General Electric, a foray into mining equipment is just one element of its overall strategy. Get the bigger picture in the Fool's premium report on GE, along with a year's worth of free updates to take you well into the conglomerate's future. Click here and start reading today.

The article Why the Dow's Sinking Fast This Morning originally appeared on Fool.com.

Fool contributor Dan Caplinger doesn't own shares of the companies mentioned in this article. You can follow him on Twitter @DanCaplinger. The Motley Fool owns shares of Bank of America and McDonald's. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of McDonald's. 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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