Why the Dow Is on Pace for 2012's Worst Day

It's nuclear fallout for the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI) the day after the U.S. presidential election. As of 2:20 p.m. EST, the Dow's on pace to challenge its worst day of the year so far, having sunk a calamitous 258 points -- just shy of 2%. Shares of every member of the Dow are in the red, with only five stocks managing to keep losses below 1%. A few notable losers are really getting clobbered today, and with economic fears swirling and renewed concerns mounting over Washington, D.C.'s partisan gridlock of recent times, the Dow's post-election swing has a notably sour taste.

Economic eruption
Clearly, the markets don't like the aftermath of yesterday's election. Investors are in a panic over the fiscal cliff set to hit in less than two months. With a combination of rising tax rates and devastating across-the-board spending cuts, the fiscal cliff could severely slam Wall Street if Congress doesn't act on it. Considering that Congress is deadlocked over 2011's debt ceiling -- and credit rating agency Fitch warned today that failure to fix the fiscal cliff would likely result in a U.S. downgrade -- it seems investors aren't confident at all in the ability of federal politicians to work together.

The bad news isn't contained to the U.S., either. It's anarchy on the streets of Athens today, with petrol bombs and tear gas grenades hurled in massive riots during Greece's pivotal austerity vote. If the Greek government can't approve further bailout packages in the country, investors fear Greece could leave the Eurozone altogether as the nation sinks further into its fiscal sinkhole.

Everyone's down
The three best-performing stocks of the day -- with "best" being a relative term -- all cater to wide audiences. Wal-Mart (NYS: WMT) has lost the least in today's sell-off, down only 0.5%. Wal-Mart shouldn't lose much regardless of the impact of the election, given the company's sound business model and appeal to working-class and lower-class consumers. Similarly, McDonald's (NYS: MCD) shares are down only 0.8%. Finally, Home Depot (NYS: HD) , which has done quite well in the aftermath of last week's hurricane, has seen shares fall 0.7%.

Financials lead all sectors lower, and Bank of America (NYS: BAC) is getting absolutely slammed. The big bank is down more than 5.9% so far, as investors fear President Obama's second term could bring serious regulations to bear against the financial industry. The same sentiment has sent fellow bank JPMorgan (NYS: JPM) down significantly; it ranks second among the laggards with losses of 4.6%.

Stocks are down big-time today, but buying on the dips is a great way to win. That being said, should you trust your investment to today's biggest loser -- Bank of America? To learn more about the most talked-about bank out there, check out our in-depth company report on Bank of America. The report details Bank of America's prospects, including three reasons to buy and three reasons to sell. Just click here to get access.

The article Why the Dow Is on Pace for 2012's Worst Day originally appeared on Fool.com.

Dan Carroll has no positions in the stocks mentioned above. The Motley Fool owns shares of Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase & Co., and McDonald's. Motley Fool newsletter services recommend The Home Depot and 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 Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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