The one thing you can count on from the market is that just when you think you have it pegged, it does something completely unexpected. Although many people have been calling for a correction for months now, the spring-loaded pullback that we've seen in recent days isn't exactly what everyone had in mind. Yet suddenly, all sorts of fears that everyone had dismissed as late as last week are now back on the table, and stock investors are fleeing in droves. At around 2:45 p.m. EDT, the Dow Jones Industrials (INDEX: ^DJI ) were down 196 points to 12,733, while the S&P 500 dropped 22 points to 1,360.
Most Dow stocks are down, but a few are bucking the trend. Pfizer (NYSE: PFE ) shares are up today despite a court ruling saying that the company may have to face some suits related to asbestos claims against its bankrupt Quigley subsidiary. Although the company funded a settlement pool with about $430 million, it only covered 80% of potential plaintiffs. The ruling could extend an already decades-long process for years to come.
Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT ) was down less than half a percent after Best Buy (NYSE: BBY ) CEO Brian Dunn resigned. Although electronics make up only part of Wal-Mart's retail empire, they've become an increasingly important part of the equation as the company has become a distribution channel for iPads and iPhones as well as other popular devices. Wal-Mart may benefit from Best Buy's weakness, but it shouldn't expect the big-box electronics specialist to go down with a fight.
Finally, Intel (Nasdaq: INTC ) is down more than 1% today. The company was today's feature in the Fool's Right for Your IRA series, in which Fool contributor Sean Williams went through the company's biggest growth opportunities. With moves into mobile devices and cloud computing while retaining a lock on the PC microprocessor business, Intel stands poised for long-term success.
Even with the Dow's recent losses, we're still only down to levels we last saw in early March -- and we've kept the lion's share of the market's gains since last October. But if you'd rather put your money into a company that stands to outpace the broader market over the long haul, you'll want to read the Motley Fool's free report on the top stock for 2012. The report features a company hand-selected by the Fool's chief investment officer that has a strong future ahead of it. I invite you to take a copy, free for a limited time. Get access to the report and find out the name of this legendary company -- but don't wait; do it right now.