Why the Dow Fell Today

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI  ) fell today as economic releases from Europe and the U.S. weighed on stocks, and new tensions in Iran pushed oil prices to a nine-month high.

Index

Change

Ending Value

Dow Jones Industrial Average -27.02 [-0.21%] 12,938.67
S&P 500 (INDEX: ^GSPC  ) -4.55 [-0.33%] 1,357.66

In Europe, investors were tame on the big news yesterday of a 130 billion euro ($172 billion) bailout deal for Greece as the Greek parliament worked to clear hurdles to implement the deal. A bailout was needed so Greece could avoid defaulting on 14 billion euros in bonds due in March. On top of this, the eurozone's composite managers index for February fell below the 50-point line, to 49.7, signaling a slowing of the eurozone economies.

In the U.S., the National Association of Realtors reported January existing-home sales rose 4.3% in January, to an annualized rate of 4.57 million, which was below analyst expectations of 4.65 million. Also, December's great numbers were revised downwards, to 4.38 million home sales, from last month's report of 4.61 million.

Oil prices weighed on both regions, with prices rosing over continued worries about rising tensions with Iran. Today, U.N. inspectors were denied entrance to an Iranian military base for the second day in a row. Brent crude, the international measure of oil prices, rose $1.24 to $122.90 per barrel. Fool oil analyst David Lee Smith and I have been warning for months about a possible oil-price spike in 2012 as Iran and Saudi Arabia vie for influence now that the U.S. is finally out of Iraq. We expect oil stocks will continue to rise as the price of oil rises.

The Dow is also hurting from Wal-Mart's (NYSE: WMT  ) poor earnings yesterday. Wal-Mart was the Dow's biggest loser yesterday, down 3.85%, after reporting revenues that met analyst expectations but with earnings that didn't. Wal-Mart missed expectations because of significant discounting over the holiday season. The stock was also punished, as management set 2012 guidance lower than expected, suggesting they will continue heavily discounting. Today the company kept its spot at the bottom of the pack, falling 2.45% to lead the Dow down.

Lighten Up

All this news was bad for the Dow and it was also bad for kids that lost teeth today, as data shows "average giving by the Tooth Fairy" is correlated with Dow performance.

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Dan Dzombak really did include that Tooth Fairy link in this article, but he holds no position in any company mentioned. Click here and like his Facebook page to follow his investing articles. 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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