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If you've looked closely at the Dow Jones Industrials (INDEX: ^DJI ) recently, then you're no stranger to volatility. Even within a given trading session, wild swings show just how temperamental the markets can be. After falling this morning on depressing economic data that manufacturing activity slowed for the first time in almost three years, suggesting that the slow-paced economic recovery is having trouble keeping momentum, the Dow managed to cut its losses by the end of the day, finishing down just 9 points. Increasingly, investors seem convinced that the Federal Reserve will take further stimulative action to boost the economy.
Even after the comeback, the Dow was evenly split between winners and losers. Leading the way down was DuPont (NYSE: DD ) , which fell more than 2%. Analyst firm Jefferies cut a dime off earnings-per-share estimates for 2012 and $0.20 in 2013 for DuPont, and similarly trimmed chemical industry peer Huntsman (NYSE: HUN ) , which fell almost 3%. DuPont's shares have tripled since their early 2009 lows, but with recent declines, the stock is now flat since late 2010.
General Electric (NYSE: GE ) fell 1.7% despite announcing a deal with Russian oil giant Rosneft to provide oil and gas technology and equipment. Unfortunately, the timing is a little off, with oil prices remaining well below their highs for the year despite a big rebound last Friday. But the deal could eventually make GE a player in the fossil-fuel energy industry to join its big commitment to alternative-energy production.
Finally, Bank of America (NYSE: BAC ) dropped about 1.6%. The bank is still sensitive to economic pressures, but one interesting piece of news today involved a big gain in sales of municipal bonds, amounting to almost $192 billion and rising 69% from year-ago levels. With B of A Merrill Lynch winning out as top underwriter with more than $26 billion in deals, it's clear that the company is benefiting from investors' desire to avoid taxes by buying muni bonds.
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