Markets Collapse Late in Trading Day


For the second consecutive day, the Dow Jones Industrial Average's falls late in the trading session. After moving trading flat for the majority of the day, just after 2 p.m. EDT the Dow began falling and by the closing bell rang, the index was 208 points, or 1.36%, lower. Both the S&P 500 (INDEX: ^GSPC) and the Nasdaq followed a similar trajectory and ended the session lower by 1.43% and 1.01%, respectively.

A solid reason for the end-of-the-day sell-off is hard to come by, but increased fears that the Federal Reserve will slow its bond-buying program before the economy is completely on recovery lane has been a favorite go-to explanation for many analysts and pundits lately. Additionally today, though, the decline of consumer spending and income figures, despite higher consumer sentiment, likely added downward pressure on stocks.

A few Dow losers
Shares of Pfizer led all Dow losers today, after the stock closed lower by 3.61%. My Fool colleague John Divine commented that the company was hit with the "trifecta of negative catalysts" today. John's three forces pushing the stock lower were a poor report from an analyst, which gave the stock a $27 price target for the next 12 months; an overall poor performance by the health-care industry as a whole today; and the implication that rising bond yields are pulling income-oriented investors away from Pfizer, even though the stock's dividend yield is 3.3%.

Walt-Disney lost 2.43% of its value after CFO Jay Rasulo told analysts yesterday that different units of Disney's business may have a tough fiscal third quarter. Rasulo specified parks revenue, film studio operating income, and cable network affiliate fees as main concerns. We recently heard Disney's ESPN unit is laying off 400, or roughly 5% of its workforce, and many have attributed those cuts to higher programming costs. Investors will likely see short-term pressure on the stock due to the comments made yesterday and next quarter's earnings results. In the long run, however, Disney is a great company and doesn't show any serious signs of weakness at this time.

UnitedHealth is also moving lower due to comments from the company's management team. The stock lost 3.14% of its value today after CEO Stephen Hemsley spoke about the changes and issues the company will likely face in the future due to the Affordable Care Act yesterday. Hemsley told investors at the Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. conference that UnitedHealth will initially only participate in just 12 health-care exchanges. The company believes that the first wave of uninsured Americans seeking coverage through the exchanges will be costly customers due to "pent-up appetite" for medical care. This has caused UnitedHealth to take a cautious stance when it comes to the exchanges, and management wants to wait and see how everything plays out.

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Fool contributor Matt Thalman owns shares of Walt Disney. The Motley Fool recommends UnitedHealth Group. It recommends and owns shares of Walt Disney. Check back Monday through Friday as Matt explains what caused the Dow's winners and losers of the day and every Saturday for a weekly recap. Follow Matt on Twitter @mthalman5513. 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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