The Dow's Biggest Losers

Mr. Market to January: Let the good times keep rolling. The second trading day of 2012 saw two of three major indices up, while gold stayed above $1,600 an ounce and oil sat at $103 a barrel. For those who subscribe to "the January effect," the belief that a positive first month of an election year bodes well for the remaining 11 months, these first days are important. In fact, going back to 1945 a strong January has predicted solid annual market returns 86% of the time.

With that in mind, it is encouraging that not even negative news emanating from the E.U. could rattle the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI  ) into a negative day, as it ended up 21 points. The S&P 500 also closed up but managed a meager 0.02% gain. The Nasdaq ended up down by an even more meager margin, 0.01%.

The good times didn't keep rolling for everyone, though. Inside the Dow, the single biggest decliner was Verizon (NYSE: VZ  ) , down 1.3% on news that the company doubled iPhone sales in the fourth quarter but suffered a 6% reduction in gross margins, largely because of the discounts the company offered with smartphones. CFO Fran Shammo also denied that Verizon has any interest in buying Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX  ) , claiming that if anything, the company was looking for revenue-sharing partnerships. Netflix shares were up 11%, however, on increased speculation that other tech giants might be interested in acquiring the company.

Rounding out our bottom three we have Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT  ) and Pfizer (NYSE: PFE  ) . Despite no news, Wal-Mart gave away all of its gains from yesterday, falling 1% to less than $60 a share. Pfizer declined 0.9%, where the only company-specific news was a $45 million verdict against the company and the loss of an executive to Illumina. Perhaps better feelings about the overall markets are causing money to move out of health-care stocks and into less defensive categories.

All told, it appears the market is continuing a positive trend to kick off the year. It's worth watching with a close eye to see how the market closes this week and this month -- and to see whether past trends remain true.

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David Williamson owns shares of Pfizer, but he holds no other position in any company mentioned. Check out his holdings and a short bio. The Motley Fool owns shares of Wal-Mart Stores. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Wal-Mart Stores, Illumina, Pfizer, and Netflix and creating a diagonal call position in Wal-Mart Stores. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't 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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