What Drove the Dow Lower Today

U.S. stocks were seeing red today, as indexes sold off across the board despite a relatively positive report on jobless claims from the Department of Labor. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI  ) finished in negative territory for the second consecutive day, dropping nearly 62 points, or 0.5%. Other major U.S. indexes fared worse: The Nasdaq and S&P 500 closed 1.2% and 0.8%, respectively, during the trading session.

In a sign of possible investor anxiety before tomorrow's non-farm payroll figures, the market's "fear gauge," the VIX (INDEX: ^VIX  ) , spiked 4% today. Investors have been somewhat anxious about what some view as a "softening" of the already-tepid recovery, with one report already detailing slowing manufacturing growth during April. Tomorrow's payroll figures will give investors another key insight into whether the rally in U.S. markets is indeed sustainable.

Around the markets
On a light news day, several Dow components took some pretty sharp haircuts, with Alcoa, Bank of America (NYSE: BAC  ) , Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard, and Intel all losing more than 1% during today's sessions. However, those drops pale in comparison with Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (Nasdaq: GMCR  ) , which ended today down nearly 50%. Alarm bells rang as the company issued disappointing full-year guidance, sending investors scrambling for parachutes as the stock nosedived at the start of trading and moved steadily lower during the daily session.

On the earnings front, shares of Prudential Financial (NYSE: PRU  ) took a beating today to the tune of 10% as the company reported quarterly figures below analyst estimates. The company took it on the chin on several key derivative positions, especially in the Japanese yen, during the quarter, resulting in a loss of nearly $1 billion. On a more positive note, Whole Foods Market (Nasdaq: WFM  ) rose more than 7% as earnings exceeded Wall Street estimates.

What it all means
Unless you're fortunate enough to have your crystal ball on hand, deciphering the daily movements of the stock market is no way to invest. Instead, investors should focus their efforts on finding stocks they think have potential to win over the long term and holding them through the occasional bump in the road. The Fool thinks it found three stocks that have all the makings of long-term winners, which we detail in a research report for our readers. We made it absolutely free, so access your copy today.

Andrew Tonner held no financial position in any of the companies mentioned in this article. You can follow Andrew and all of his Foolish writing on Twitter at @AndrewTonner. The Motley Fool owns shares of Intel, Bank of America, and Whole Foods Market. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Whole Foods Market, and Intel and creating a lurking gator position in Green Mountain Coffee Roasters. 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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