What Caused the Day's 120-Point Drop

Stocks continued their post-electoral skids on Thursday, as positive export numbers weren't enough to counter the gloomy mood resulting from continuing European debt worries. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI) fell 121 points, or nearly 1%, to close the day at 12,811.

Domestic exports reached all-time highs in September, cutting the U.S. trade deficit to $41.5 billion on a surge in overseas spending from emerging markets. Considering the upbeat numbers, some analysts believe the U.S. economy may have expanded at a 2.8% annual clip in July through September, far higher than initial Commerce Department estimates of just 2%.

Still, worries lingered in international markets a day after European Central Bank (ECB) President Mario Draghi said Europe's debt woes were starting to weigh on Germany. But the biggest European news of the day was Spain's stubborn refusal to request funds from the ECB, which is naturally a preliminary requirement for ECB intervention.

Technology bellwether Cisco Systems (NAS: CSCO) led the Dow down Thursday, shedding more than 2.2% just days before its quarterly earnings report next Tuesday. Even though it has beaten earnings estimates for four straight quarters, the stock is clearly not a timely one with investors. With shares down more than 5% for the year, it's possible that some big hedge funds and institutional investors are simply cutting their losses and dumping the stock before the year's end.

Another massive tech company that was hammered today was Apple (NAS: AAPL) , which closed down more than 3.6%. Shares are now officially in "bear market territory," meaning that prices have decreased more than 20% from their recent highs. General fears remain that the company has become so massive that it has exhausted all areas of meaningful future growth. Combined with increasing competition, investors continue to worry about Apple's prospects.

Some major news came after the bell today, as travel site Priceline.com (NAS: PCLN) announced it will be acquiring rival travel research company Kayak (NAS: KYAK) for $1.8 billion in cash and stock. Pending shareholder and regulatory approval, the acquisition will be composed of $500 million in cash, and $1.3 billion in stock. The proposed $40 per share that Priceline will pay for Kayak stock is a healthy premium to where the stock closed before the bell, at $31.04.

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John Divine owns shares of Apple stock. You can follow him on Twitter @divinebizkid, and on Motley Fool CAPS @TMFDivine.The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple and Priceline.com. Motley Fool newsletter services recommend Apple and Priceline.com. 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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