The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI ) sank for the fourth day in a row, ceding 2% over that timeframe and finishing 0.26% lower on the day. The Dow's close companion, the S&P 500 (INDEX: ^GSPC ) , also dropped, shedding 0.44%. Still, the storyline for both indexes remained basically the same. As Europe ponders its next move, the uncertainty around Greece's potential exit from the eurozone will continue to weigh heavily on investors around the world.
Instead of revisiting the Greek exit scenario, however, let's dive into the new developments that unfolded today. First off, General Electric (NYSE: GE ) announced this morning that its finance arm, GE Capital, will once again pay a dividend to the parent company, for the first time since 2009. The dividend of $475 million will arrive quarterly, subject to board approval, and the finance unit plans to pay GE a special dividend of $4.5 billion during the course of 2012. While GE revealed its intentions to reinitiate the dividend in recent earnings calls, there was some concern that the Federal Reserve would make the company wait until 2013, when GE would have an even stronger balance sheet to boast about. On the news, GE shares were up 3.26% during the day.
Across the pond, more news emerged in the ongoing JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM ) trading fiasco, and this time it related to layoffs of 20 investment-banking employees in the London offices. So, as a quick overview, last Thursday JPMorgan Chase announced that a London employee, now referred to as the "London Whale" in many circles, cost the firm $2 billion by taking the wrong side of a large bet. Since then, we've seen executives leave over trading losses, the SEC initiate a case to look into its practices, and shareholders launch a suit against both CEO Jamie Dimon and the bank itself. More than just a rude awakening, this trading bet gone bad has been a slap in the face for the entire financial sector. The bank closed 2.15% lower today and more than 15% lower over the past five days. Bank of America (NYSE: BAC ) , the other large Dow banking stock, closed 2.5% lower and is down more than 8% over the past five trading days.
The uncertainty in both the financial sector and Europe casts a dark cloud over the Dow, especially in recent weeks. While it can be difficult to ignore the daily swings of the market because of the increased volatility, it's more important than ever to focus on the stocks you really believe in for the long haul. To get you started in your investment research, top analysts at The Motley Fool scour the market for the most promising companies. Our recent report highlights a company that even our chief investment officer is endorsing because of its incredible growth opportunities. Download our special report, "The Motley Fool's Top Stock for 2012." It won't be available for ever, so get your copy now.