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Even as the stock market closes out a successful first quarter, it's well on its way to posting a third straight day of losses today. Falling unemployment claims weren't enough to assuage fears about world economic activity, and rocky performance from the Chinese stock market has some investors particularly concerned. Others simply believe that investors are taking profits after a huge gain to start 2012. A bit before 1:45 p.m. EDT, the Dow Jones Industrials (INDEX: ^DJI ) were down 50 points to 13,077, while the S&P 500 was down 10 points to 1,396.
Among Dow stocks, Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO ) rose about three-quarters of a percent. The company opened a new factory in China that will be its largest in the country. Having invested $160 million in the plant, Coke will be able to produce volume of roughly 5 billion units from the facility.
Oil stocks fell slightly, with both ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM ) and Chevron (NYSE: CVX ) losing less than half a percent. In a vote in the Senate, lawmakers chose not to repeal current tax incentives for oil companies. The move defies the Obama administration, which lobbied for the repeal to generate $24 billion in revenue over the next decade, some of which would have been used for energy efficiency incentives. In the long run, massive profits at oil companies will inevitably raise political pressure to increase taxes and eliminate subsidies, especially if oil prices stay at high levels.
Finally, Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ ) was down about 0.4%. All eyes are on Washington as the Supreme Court has been hearing arguments about the constitutionality of the health-care reform law. Yet regardless of whether the current private insurance system continues or whether a more nationally based program takes hold, J&J can still point to favorable demographic trends and overseas expansion opportunities as potentially huge profit-makers.
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