Why the Dow's Down This Morning

The latest figures on the U.S. economy gave the stock market pause today, as GDP rose at an annualized rate of 2.8%. That was the strongest figure since mid-2010, but it fell short of the expected 3% rise. Just before 10:30 a.m. EST, the Dow Jones Industrials (INDEX: ^DJI  ) were down 50 points to 12,684, while the S&P 500 fell 2 points to 1,317.

Earnings season continues, with Chevron (NYSE: CVX  ) on the hot seat this morning, falling almost 3% after releasing its fourth-quarter results. Although its sales and operating revenue jumped 12% to more than $58 billion for the quarter, earnings declined slightly and fell shy of expectations. Notably, the company posted a net loss from its downstream segment, with falling demand, downtime for maintenance, and weaker margins for refined products all playing a role in the loss. But while high oil prices can hit downstream margins, they help boost profits from upstream exploration and production activity.

Cisco (Nasdaq: CSCO  ) was also a big Dow loser, with a drop of more than 2%. The stock likely fell in sympathy with rival Juniper Networks (NYSE: JNPR  ) , which plunged more than 10% at the open after posting lower sales and citing "continued uncertainty" in the macroeconomic picture for 2012. But Cisco has done a good job of recovering from its own uncertainty in late 2010, dramatically outperforming Juniper over the past six months.

With General Motors having fallen out of the Dow after its bankruptcy, car companies have no representation in the average. But Ford (NYSE: F  ) , which might be the logical choice to join the Dow, fell more than 4% after releasing quarterly results. Although the company had its most profitable year since 1999, Ford missed analyst estimates and raised questions about prospects for continued growth internationally.

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Fool contributor Dan Caplinger doesn't own shares of the companies mentioned. You can follow him on Twitter here. The Motley Fool owns shares of Cisco and Ford. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Ford, Cisco, Chevron, and General Motors, as well as creating a synthetic long position in Ford. 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 Fool has a disclosure policy.


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