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The market gives, and the market takes away. After a strong start to the quarter yesterday, the Federal Reserve took away the punch bowl with indications that it doesn't intend to do another round of quantitative easing, even despite concerns that the slow economic recovery could give way to weakness later this year. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI ) managed to finish well above its worst levels of the day, but it still lost 65 points to close at 13,200. The Nasdaq Composite (INDEX: ^IXIC ) recovered even more, falling just 6 points or 0.2%.
Several Dow stocks did far worse than the overall market. Let's take a look at a few of them.
Bank of America (NYSE: BAC ) , down 2%
More than any other sector, banks see a big impact from Fed moves. If the Fed stops holding rates down, then the resulting potential drop in interest income could make B of A suffer just as it seems to be getting its feet under it.
But a longer-term concern for B of A is the possible brain drain from its smorgasbord of recent acquisitions. Bloomberg reported that veteran advisor Myles Pritchard is leaving to open his own firm. As the Volcker Rule complicates matters for banks that do proprietary trading, you can expect to see further defections that could hurt prospects both at B of A and at its peers.
Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ ) , down 1.8%
HP hasn't been a market favorite for a long time, and even when the company has some good news, its share price can't catch a break. HP announced today that it won an Army contract related to cloud computing that could be worth as much as a quarter-billion dollars.
For HP to reverse its slump, it needs more victories like this in areas like cloud computing. By diversifying away from its printer and PC business, HP has the best chance of executing a successful turnaround.
ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM ) , down 1.4%
Exxon shares fell on a bad day in the energy markets. Oil prices fell more than $1 per barrel, and some see energy stocks like Exxon as a speculative play on risky assets -- a play that the Fed's comments could put an end to.
Still, the news wasn't all bad for Exxon. In response to criticism from the industry, the Obama administration said it would cut review times on applications for drilling on federal land in an effort to streamline production. Of course, the proof will come when actual changes take effect, but with the nation struggling with high gasoline prices, increased production is a priority for the public at large.
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