Will the Dow Fall Off the Cliff?


If you woke up to a feeling of deja vu, you're not alone. Looking at the way the Dow Jones Industrials opened today's session may remind you of yesterday, when stocks fell sharply from the open before eventually recovering most of their gains. With the prospect for big news happening over the weekend, when the House of Representatives is scheduled to meet Sunday night to try to agree to a resolution to the fiscal cliff, traders don't want to get caught on the wrong end of the market. As a result, the stock market is ignoring good news on the housing front, where pending home sales jumped to their highest levels since mid 2010, and instead selling off. As of 10:45 a.m. EST, the Dow had cut its earlier losses to just 29 points.

Among Dow stocks, Hewlett-Packard was the big loser, falling nearly 2% after confirming that the Justice Department is investigating whether Autonomy misrepresented its financials prior to HP's acquisition of the software company last year. Regardless of the result, though, the incident is a huge distraction as HP tries to get itself back on track with a viable business strategy going forward.

Home Depot fell slightly as the probability of a massive strike that could close East Coast and Gulf ports increased. Although most retailers have already had their busiest season of the year during the holiday season, Home Depot and rival Lowe's have a lot to lose if goods they traditionally sell during the spring planting and gardening season can't arrive by boat, and arranging for alternate transportation would be extremely disruptive and potentially costly.

Finally, outside the Dow, Aeterna Zentaris soared almost 20% on news that the FDA would grant a Special Protocol Assessment for its phase 3 trial of endometrial cancer drug AEZS-108. The SPA moves Aeterna one step closer to a potential approval for the drug if the trial meets expectations.

Will HP ever get past its controversies?
It seems like HP is always fighting some backward-looking battle that draws attention from the challenge of charting a successful path forward. Investors need to know whether HP is the least-appreciated turnaround story on the market or just a decaying company with an obsolescent business. Find out more in our premium report on HP, in which The Motley Fool's technology analyst details exactly what investors need to know about the company. Just click here now to get your copy today.

The article Will the Dow Fall Off the Cliff? originally appeared on Fool.com.

Fool contributor Dan Caplinger has no positions in the stocks mentioned above. You can follow him on Twitter @DanCaplinger. The Motley Fool has no positions in the stocks mentioned above. Motley Fool newsletter services recommend Home Depot and Lowe'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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