Caterpillar's Earnings Weigh Down the Dow

Seems like every day now the Dow Jones Industrial Average is touching a new yearly high. As of 2:25 p.m. EST, the Dow has fallen 32 points, retreating from the new 52-week high it reached earlier in today's trading session. Stocks have turned downward, with most members of the index in the red and numerous stocks falling more than 1%. Let's go around the Dow to see which picks are bringing down the index the most -- and which are salvaging something for investors today.

Caterpillar's earnings bring down industrials
It hasn't been a good day for industrials on the Dow so far. Alcoa leads the losers, down 2.3%, while Caterpillar is close behind, having lost 1.9%. Caterpillar filed its fourth-quarter earnings today, and the results did not please investors: The company's global sales fell 4% year over year in the period, down from a 1% drop in the third quarter. Asia-Pacific and North American sales both particularly hurt the industrial giant, with each recording double-digit percentage point losses. China has been particularly hard on industrials such as Caterpillar and Alcoa lately, as the region's recent slowdown hurts demand.

Despite the sector's woes, not every manufacturer is in the red today. Aerospace titan Boeing is among the day's outperformers, up 1.3%. According to a source who spoke to Bloomberg, Boeing officials are set to meet with regulators later this week regarding a battery fix for their 787 Dreamliner plane. The newest aircraft from Boeing has been grounded by the FAA since its infamous problems back in January, but today's news is giving investors some room for hope that the Dreamliner's woes will soon be behind it.

Finally, Big Pharma is also on the rise today, with Merck ranking near the top of the Dow with a 1.2% gain, while Pfizer has recorded more modest gains of 0.1%. Merck, which has had a tough go recently after warning that generic competition could cut into 2013 profit as it struggles with the patent expirations of its former top drugs, struck a deal today with Samsung Bioepis, a joint venture between Samsung and Biogen Idec . Merck released little about the partnership, saying only that it would cover multiple undisclosed biosimiliars, but a biotech agreement to help bring new drugs to market is just what the lagging pharmaceutical giant needs to boost sales.

Merck has struggled with the patent cliff recently, but does today's move offer hope for the future? This titan of the pharmaceutical industry stumbled into 2013 and continues to battle patent expirations and pipeline problems. Is Merck still a solid dividend play, or should investors be looking elsewhere? In a new premium research report on Merck, The Fool tackles all of the company's moving parts, its major market opportunities, and reasons both to buy and to sell. To find out more -- and get a full year of free updates -- click here to claim your copy today.

The article Caterpillar's Earnings Weigh Down the Dow originally appeared on

Fool contributor Dan Carroll has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. 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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