Why the Dow Sold Off Today

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Believers in the market's recent rally got a bit of a reality check today, as both global and U.S. stock indices sold off heavily today following several dismal macroeconomic storylines. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI  ) declined for the second consecutive day today, ending the day down almost 125 points, or roughly 1%. Similarly, the S&P 500 notched its second largest decline of the year, as it dropped 1.02% on the day. Similarly, the Nasdaq fell by 1.5%.

Things got even uglier for international stocks. Many global indices took twice the beating, with many falling 2% or more during the day's trading. Investors' alarm bells sounded loud and clear following weak demand for a fresh round of Spanish debt, causing Spain's borrowing costs to rise to its highest levels since the around the beginning of the year. Who knew Europe's fiscal house still wasn't back in order?

Around the markets
Every sector of the market ended the day down, and commodities ended with mixed results. Natural gas futures dropped substantially ahead of tomorrow's inventory report from the Department of Energy, forcing natural gas-related stocks deep into the red. Shares of nat gas play Westport Innovations (Nasdaq: WPRT  ) dropped almost 6% today, leaving the company down more than 14% over the past five days.

Shares of Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) and Nokia (NYSE: NOK  ) also plummeted today, falling 2.3% and 4.5%, respectively. The companies, which have shared similar fates thus far in the smartphone space, have the Nokia Lumia 900 -- powered by Mr. Softy's Windows Mobile OS -- making its debut tomorrow over at carrier AT&T (NYSE: T  ) . The companies both have effectively no presence in the smartphone space, the area in personal computing expected to easily undergo the most growth for years to come. Although competitively priced at $100, the phone has received plenty of "it's no iPhone" reviews. And although the price point seems like a sweetener, an adequate data plan will still run users around $80 a month for AT&T data, cell, and text services, making the actual value proposition start to seem less appealing. That iPhone's looking better by the minute.

Days like this make investors' stomachs churn, and understandably so. Nothing hurts more than seeing your portfolio take a big haircut. However, Rome wasn't built in a day, as the cliche goes. Building your retirement savings requires looking to the long term, and the Fool has a few stocks that fit the bill for investors. We recently issued a free research report detailing three retirement stocks to help you retire rich. Better yet, we made them completely free for our readers, so access your free copy today.

Andrew Tonner held no financial position in any of the firms mentioned in this article at the time of its publication. The Motley Fool owns shares of Microsoft. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Nokia, Westport Innovations, and Microsoft and creating a bull call spread position in Microsoft. 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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  • Report this Comment On April 05, 2012, at 9:21 AM, bk1965 wrote:

    This article doesn't answer the question of why. It only tells us a lot of what happened.

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