Down Goes the Dow Again

It's a third straight day of decline for the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI) . On the heels of the first Dow earnings release of the season, the index has lost 1% as of 2 p.m. EDT for a 131-point drop on the day and doesn't look to be rebounding before the closing bell. From a lagging sector to a super retail stock ignoring the bearish blues, let's have a look around the Dow in afternoon trading.

Alcoa's disappointing lead
Many around the markets have predicted this quarter's earnings season to be a particularly rough go-round, and Alcoa's (NYS: AA) results didn't make for a promising kickoff. While the aluminum manufacturer did top analyst projections for revenue and adjusted earnings, the company recorded an overall quarterly net loss and cautioned that metal demand would decline based on China's slowing growth. That warning certainly didn't help Alcoa's stock, which leads the downward charge today, plunging 4.7%

Alcoa's cautionary statement proceeded to bring down another of the Dow's major manufacturers. As one of the world's largest suppliers of industrial goods, Caterpillar (NYS: CAT) has fallen more than 2% on the demand estimates. Shares of the company now trade near 52-week lows, so investors bullish on a global economic turnaround could see a great time to buy. However, given the IMF's bleak portrait of next year's economic growth, manufacturing demand seems likely to continue spinning its wheels for the near future.

More laggards and a lone leader
Conglomerates United Technologies (NYS: UTX) and General Electric (NYS: GE) have fallen on the gloomy economic outlook, declining 1.4% and 0.6%, respectively. Tech and big oil have also declined on the day, with shares of Cisco (NAS: CSCO) and Chevron (NYS: CVX) leading their respective sectors down. Chevron in particular has taken a hit, falling more than 4.3% for the day due to low oil prices and Hurricane Isaac's impact on production. The oil giant predicted declining profit for Q3 in the report, sparking the drop.

Only four stocks are in the green as of 1:45 p.m. EDT, but Wal-Mart (NYS: WMT) has certainly done its part to buck the day's disappointing results. The retail king announced it would be adding stores and claimed strong results from its back-to-school operations. Shares of Wal-Mart have risen 2.9% on the day, giving Dow investors a glimmer of optimism among the sea of red.

Make the most of the bad days
It's always disheartening as a shareholder to trudge through days of across-the-board losses like today, but times like these can also present opportunities to pick up great stocks on the cheap. You'll always need to do your homework before making the call, however -- and we have you covered with our premium guides to the risks and opportunities facing Caterpillar and General Electric. Both have fallen off the pace today, but that doesn't mean you should run the other direction. Check out your copies of these reports to find all you need to know.

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Dan Carroll has no positions in the stocks mentioned above. The Motley Fool owns shares of General Electric Company. Motley Fool newsletter services recommend Chevron. 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 Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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