Phew. The market seemed to take a much-needed breather today after the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI ) suffered its worst drop of the year on Friday. Today's action was much more subdued -- the Dow declined slightly but both the Nasdaq and S&P 500 managed to eke out meager gains. Ultimately, the day could have been much worse -- the blue-chip index dropped more than 80 points at one moment before rallying to end the day slightly in the red.
Investors seemed to be in wait-and-see mode today as they look for signs of life from the global economy, and in particular Europe. The continent remains in very serious trouble, keeping investors cautious as Greece's possible eurozone exit and Spain's potential need of a bailout continue to be the main areas of concern. China's economy also continues to show weakness, and data today showed the country's non-manufacturing industries grew at the slowest pace in more than a year.
Here's how three major U.S. indices fared on the day:
|Dow Jones Industrial Average||-17.11 [-0.14%]||12,101.46|
|S&P 500||0.14 [0.01%]||1,278.18|
Turning to individual stocks, JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM ) was the Dow's biggest loser today, dropping 2.9%. The world's largest bank by assets continues to be hit by the fallout of its shocking $2 billion trading loss disclosed last month. According to The New York Times, the company is expected to follow the recommendation of a small group of shareholder advocates and strengthen its board panel that oversees risk. The only problem: The message from the shareholders was conveyed (and until now ignored) more than a year ago.
Construction-equipment giant Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT ) continues its precipitous drop, falling 2.6% on the day. The company was pulled down last week after poor forward guidance from mining-equipment maker Joy Global spooked investors. Caterpillar recently made a big bet on mining with its purchase of Bucyrus International, its largest acquisition ever. After being the second-best Dow performer for the first few months of the year, Caterpillar's stock is now down more than 25% in just the past three months.
It wasn't all bad for Dow stocks on the day, as Home Depot (NYSE: HD ) managed to log the biggest gain, rising 1.7%. The stock has been one of the best performers on the Dow this year, climbing 16%.
Outside the Dow, Facebook (Nasdaq: FB ) dropped 3% after Bernstein analyst Carlos Kirjner hit the stock with a $25 price target. Bernstein noted that Facebook's advertising revenue growth has seen a "rapid deceleration" in recent quarters and said, "We believe there is material risk that over the next 12 months investors will question Facebook's ability to achieve our forecasted 2013 revenues as near-term revenue growth decelerates." Facebook's stock closed today at $26.90.
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