Why the Dow Dropped Today

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI  ) finished in the red today, pushed down after the minutes of today's Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting were released this afternoon. The minutes revealed a divided FOMC on the issue of easing, which suggested that the Federal Reserve probably won't be implementing any form of stimulus anytime soon. The S&P 500 also declined today after hitting a four-year high yesterday.

Index

Change

Ending Value

Dow Jones Industrial Average -64.94 [-0.49%] 13,199.55
S&P 500 (INDEX: ^GSPC  ) -5.66 [-0.40%] 1,413.38
Nasdaq -6.13 [-0.20%] 3,113.57

The news out of the Fed helped drive Bank of America (NYSE: BAC  ) down nearly 2% on the day. The company is one of the most exposed to the overall economy on the Dow and was also the biggest beneficiary of the Dow's record-setting first quarter. Its stock is up more than 70% just this year alone.

McDonald's was the biggest winner on the Dow today, up just over 1%. The company has performed insanely well through the difficult macro-environment this past decade and even got a seal of approval from a competitor today, as Burger King released a new menu that closely resembled what you'll find at Mickey-D's.

March U.S. auto-sales figures were also released today, and the numbers looked promising overall. with a 13% year-over-year increase in sales of light vehicles last month. Pent-up demand is one of many factors helping spur auto sales, as the average automobile in the U.S. is 11 years old. Automakers are also citing high gas prices as one reason for strong sales, since newer models for automakers are more fuel-efficient. Ford (NYSE: F  ) , for example, saw overall sales up 5%, but sales of the company's fuel-efficient Focus surged 65%.

In spite of General Motors' (NYSE: GM  ) total sales increase of 12% in March, its stock was down more than 4%, since analysts were expecting bigger gains. Still, automakers overall had their best quarter for sales since 2008 -- good news for all companies, and especially the blue-chippers on the Dow more exposed to the overall economy.

The big picture
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Brendan Byrnes owns shares of Ford. The Motley Fool owns shares of Ford and Bank of America. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of McDonald's, General Motors, and Ford and creating a synthetic long position in Ford. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.


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