Why the Dow Dropped Today

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI  ) finished the day on a decline of more than 80 points, dragged down by more concerns over Spain's ability to weather its growing debt crisis as well as by disappointing earnings from two tech stalwarts, IBM (NYSE: IBM  ) and Intel (Nasdaq: INTC  ) .



Ending Value

Dow Jones Industrial Average -82.79 [-0.63%] 13,032.75
Nasdaq -11.37 [-0.37%] 3,031.45
S&P 500 -5.64 [-0.41%] 1,385.14

IBM, the Dow's highest-weighted component, fell 3.5% today despite posting operating earnings per share of $2.78, beating analyst expectations. The tech giant also raised its full-year earnings forecast to at least $15 per share this year, up from its $14.85 January forecast. But IBM pulled in revenue of $24.67 billion, slightly less than analysts expected, and its systems-and-technology unit saw revenue fall nearly 7%.

Intel was the Dow's second biggest loser, down 1.8% after the company also reported earnings that disappointed investors. Intel's decline showed that it may be a victim of its past success; in recent quarters the chipmaker beat earnings by a wide margin, while today the company booked earnings that were just slightly above expectations. Intel also said that costs associated with new production lines would eat into gross margins more than previously anticipated.

On the other side of the coin, one of the bigger Dow gainers on the day was Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT  ) , up 0.74% on news that it won Chinese approval to buy ERA Mining, further advancing its China operations. Along with Caterpillar's purchase of Bucyrus last year, these moves show that the company is going full-steam ahead into the booming mining-equipment segment.

Outside the Dow, eBay (Nasdaq: EBAY  ) reported earnings after the closing bell that increased 20%, beating expectations. The stock jumped 7.5% after hours, spurred by its PayPal unit's revenue increase of 32% and the company's increased focus on the high-growth mobile retail space.

eBay's surge after hours today is one example of why investors must keep close tabs on their favorite companies during earnings season. Our all-star team of analysts has included five of their favorite companies in our brand-new free report titled "5 Stocks Investors Need to Watch This Earnings Season." Included in the report are the names of a natural gas company, a technology company, and a rapidly growing retailer that could be poised to pop after they report earnings. Access the report now -- for free!

Brendan Byrnes owns shares of Caterpillar. The Motley Fool owns shares of IBM and Intel. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of eBay and Intel and writing puts on eBay. 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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