A Sinking Dow Can't Avert Fiscal Cliff Fears


Wall Street's on fiscal cliff watch again as the year winds down to a close, and it's taking the Dow Jones Industrial Average down with it. As of 2:15 p.m., the Dow's pushed lower by 90 points, or 0.7%, as the index threatens to cross back below the 13,000 mark. A mere two of the index's stocks are in the green on a day dominated by red, and with so many laggards, no sector is safe.

Waning hopes for a deal
Politicians continue to talk over last-minute negotiations to avert the fiscal cliff, but with no public air of agreement over a mix of tax hikes and spending cuts needed to find a solution, it seems less likely now that a deal will be done before the new year. While the fiscal cliff's impact will phase in throughout the early part of the year rather than all at once, that won't stop Wall Street from feeling down about the situation.

Energy stocks in particular have been hammered in today's sell-off. On the Dow, big-oil members Chevron and ExxonMobil rank among the worst Dow laggards of the day with shares losing 1.4% and 1.5%, respectively. It's the energy sector's sixth consecutive day of losses overall as many fellow energy stocks are also losing. Concerns about reduced consumer and business spending after the fiscal cliff likely have affected energy suppliers; with the economy in danger of slipping into recession for a few quarters, budget-savvy individuals and organizations could be looking to save on energy costs.

Winners and losers
Today's biggest loser has little to do with the fiscal cliff, however. Beleaguered tech icon Hewlett-Packard has taken another dive into the red as its shares lead all Dow stocks down with losses of 2.3%. As if the computer maker's huge loss on its Autonomy writedown wasn't enough, now reports surface that the Department of Justice is opening an investigation into the Autonomy business. If this saga continues on for a while, it could be some time before HP's able to post a meaningful rebound -- particularly with the PC market on the decline.

Home Depot and American Express have managed to stave off losses for the day, with shares gaining 0.1% and 0.3%, respectively. Home Depot investors can look forward to more opportunities ahead with housing on the rebound; a long-term improvement in the sector should continue to push this home improvement giant higher. For 2012, Home Depot's stock has surged nearly 45%.

HP's having another bad day, and clouds seem to be darkening over this hard-hit tech giant. However, HP's rapidly shifting its strategy under the new leadership of CEO Meg Whitman. But does this make HP one of the least-appreciated turnaround stories on the market, or is this a minor blip on its road to irrelevance? The Motley Fool's technology analyst details exactly what investors need to know about HP in our new premium research report. Just click here now to get your copy today.

The article A Sinking Dow Can't Avert Fiscal Cliff Fears originally appeared on Fool.com.

Dan Carroll has no positions in the stocks mentioned above. The Motley Fool owns shares of ExxonMobil. Motley Fool newsletter services recommend American Express, Chevron, and The Home Depot. 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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