Why the Dow Couldn't Quite Shake the Bears Today

After dropping more than 50 points in early trading today, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI  ) , fought its way back a bit and wound up closing down just 0.10%. The S&P 500 (INDEX: ^GSPC  ) was also essentially flat, gaining 0.03% on the day, while the Nasdaq (INDEX: ^IXIC  ) managed to book a larger gain of 0.31%.

Europe woes
The debt crisis in Europe continues to weigh down markets, as new fears of a European recession helped drive down the Dow after the opening bell. Germany's economy, the largest in Europe, probably contracted about 0.25% in the last three months of 2011. Spain, the country with Europe's highest unemployment rate, saw its industrial output drop 7% year over year in November. Finally, the European Union revised its figure for third-quarter eurozone growth to 0.1%, down from the previous 0.2% estimate.

Winners and losers
But despite European worries and today's flat markets, there were some companies that managed to show some solid gains. Bank of America ended the day up 3.62% and has now gained more than 23% in 2012 alone. Outside the Dow, building-products manufacturer USG (NYSE: USG  ) rose more than 10% on the day after a positive earnings announcement from homebuilder Lennar. Homebuilders are obviously big customers for USG, so any hint of a possible rebound in the housing sector is certainly good news for the company.

Walt Disney was the biggest loser of the Dow, down 3.2%, while SUPERVALU (NYSE: SVU  ) tanked much more, finishing down more than 12.5% on the day. The discount grocer came in below expectations on both quarterly earnings results and full-year guidance. The company's loss widened to $750 million in its fiscal third quarter after a loss of $202 million in 2010's third quarter. SUPERVALU now expects its same-store sales, a key retail metric, to decline 2.5 to 3% for the year.

Bank of America is on track to beat the market handily in 2012. If you're interested in a different stock that our chief investment officer picked to crush the market for all of 2012, check out our brand-new report, "The Motley Fool's Top Stock for 2012." It highlights a company that is revolutionizing commerce in Latin America. You can get instant access to the name of this company absolutely free.

Brendan Byrnes owns no shares of any company mentioned above. The Motley Fool owns shares of SUPERVALU and Bank of America. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Walt Disney and buying calls in SUPERVALU. 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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