Why the Dow Is in the Dumps Today


The Dow Jones Industrial Index (INDEX: ^DJI) took a pummeling today from some of its most dependable stalwarts. As of 2 p.m. EDT, the blue-chip index is down 209 points, or 1.57%.

The biggest loser, any way you slice it, is chemicals producer E.I. du Pont de Nemours (NYS: DD) . The stock is down 8.7% at midday, slicing 33 points off the Dow's total value. That's a drastic drop for a stock whose 52-week high is only 33% above the yearly lows, but it's for good reason: Du Pont missed earnings estimates last night and then slashed its full-year guidance and announced 1,500 job cuts. The weak report stems from slow sales of specialty chemicals and electronics materials, which underscores weak reports elsewhere in the electronics industry.

The second-worst performer on today's Dow is 3M (NYS: MMM) , and once again, it doesn't matter how you measure the damage. 3M fell 3.7%, stripping the Dow of another 26 points -- lagging only du Pont on both counts. And once again, that's a lot of pain, considering 3M's 26% spread between yearly highs and lows.

The consumer goods and industrial-materials giant missed Wall Street's earnings target by a penny but pulled back on fourth-quarter guidance to match up with "economic realities." CEO Inge Thulin calls the current environment a "slow-growth economy," and once again, 3M's softest sales fell in the electronics department.

Indeed, there's a larger pattern here. Don't expect holiday presents brimming with high-tech toys this year; it's hard to sell what nobody's making.

Curiously, the only two Dow stocks to stick their noses into positive territory today happen to be high-tech shops Intel (NAS: INTC) and Microsoft (NAS: MSFT) . Both reported disappointing results last week -- not to standing ovations, but to hails of rotten fruit. But I wouldn't take that detail as evidence against the sagging tech market. The traders already made their bearish moves on these stocks, sparing them some pain this week.

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Fool contributor Anders Bylundhas no positions in the stocks mentioned above. Check out Anders' bio and holdings, or follow him on Twitter and Google+. The Motley Fool owns shares of Intel and Microsoft. Motley Fool newsletter services recommend Intel, 3M Company, and Microsoft. 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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