Consumers Inflict a Painful Ending to the Dow's Erratic Week


The markets sure lost yesterday's momentum in a hurry. After downbeat economic reports came out this morning, the Dow Jones Industrial Average began a day-long sump and has lost more than 100 points as of 2:10 p.m. EDT. Only a handful of stocks are in the green today as most blue chips beat a hasty retreat, including a few big-time losers. Let's take a look at the stories you need to know about on the Dow's tumbling end to an up-and-down week.

Consumers pull back
Consumers kicked off the day with a bad start. A report from Thomson Reuters and the University of Michigan showed a preliminary reading of June's consumer confidence falling from May's six-year high of 84.5 to 82.7. That's still a strong number in the economy's recovery, but it's a minor hiccup after the recent highs. It's no reason for investors to panic.

Still, the consumer confidence dip has taken a toll on stocks today. American Express , one of the Dow's most consumer-reliant stocks, has led the index down today, with shares shedding 2.4%. The recovery has done wonders for this stock in its nearly 30% rise over the past six months, but a downgrade from Barclays today to "equal weight" hasn't helped shares any. Still, as the economy continues to recover and consumers get past issues such as the recent tax hike and sequestration, American Express and other consumer-oriented stocks should continue to capitalize.

DuPont shares aren't performing much better today, down 3% so far. The tumble comes after the company announced yesterday that the U.S.' wet and colder-than-average spring will negatively affect its first-half operating profit. Farmers have returned seed and other products due to the unusual climate activity this spring, and Europe and Canada have also been hit by weather-related issues. DuPont's nutrition business has also experienced some unseasonable pressure, according to the company.

Bank stocks haven't fared well either today. JPMorgan shares have dropped 2.2% to rank among the Dow's top laggards. The company announced that it will spin off its private-equity business after CEO Jamie Dimon had been gradually reducing the company's exposure to the segment for years. JPMorgan's private-equity segment, known as One Equity Partners, manages more than $4 billion for the company.

A few stocks have managed to make gains despite the markets woes, however. Pfizer shares rank among the handful of holdouts on the Dow, gaining 0.5%. Yesterday Pfizer and Japanese drugmaker Takeda Pharmaceuticalswon a $2.15 billion settlement in a patent-infringement case over generic copies of Pfizer and Takeda's Protonix, a heartburn relief therapy. It's a big win for Big Pharma, which has struggled recently with the patent cliff as sales of top drugs have fallen off due to patent expirations.

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