The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI ) still can’t get over its 4th of July hangover. The blue chips dropped for the sixth day in a row and, unfortunately, it has no plans to rest on the seventh. The Dow declined 31 points today, or 0.25%, but still outperformed the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq, which fell 0.5% and 0.75%, respectively. Over the six-day period, the index has lost about 370 points.
The Fed’s indication yesterday that it had no plans for another round of quantitative easing appeared to weigh on the Dow at the open, as it fell about 100 points in early trading. Japan’s central bank also passed up an opportunity for monetary relief, further souring investors.
Indian IT giant Infosys (Nasdaq: INFY ) became the latest tech company to lower its Q2 earnings projections, adding its name to a list that includes Advanced Micro Devices and Applied Materials, which offered a similar sentiment earlier in the week. In a sign of the market’s increasingly gloomy outlook, Bank of America’s research wing lowered its S&P 500 earnings forecast by $1.50/share for this year and next.
Despite the market’s slide, there was some good news to be found today. Initial unemployment claims fell to four-year lows, dropping by 26,000 to 350,000. The number, which is seasonally adjusted, could be distorted because automakers, who usually temporarily lay off employees at this time of year so they can reconfigure machinery, kept plants open last week due to high demand. Continuing unemployment claims, meanwhile, remained roughly the same.
Two Dow stocks stood head and shoulders above the crowd today. Pharmaceutical-maker Merck (NYSE: MRK ) jumped more than 4% on news that its osteoporosis drug odanacatib passed an important trial, by demonstrating that it decreases the risk of fracture. The drugmaker has gained about 15% since June 1. Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG ) was the other big winner on the day, gaining after word broke that activist investor William Ackman was building a position in the consumer-products giant. The company recently lowered its second-quarter guidance, and reports came out after hours that the board of directors is discussing plans to replace CEO Robert McDonald.
Leading the Dow’s march downward were tech components Cisco, Microsoft, and Intel, all falling more than 2% on Infosys’s warning.
Finally, keep an eye out for JPMorgan Chase’s (NYSE: JPM ) earnings report tomorrow morning at 7AM. Wall Street is expecting profits of 76 cents per share from the financial giant, down from the $1.21 it projected before the bank’s multibillion-dollar trading loss was revealed. Fellow financial Wells Fargo will report its quarter at 8AM, with analysts expecting an EPS of 81 cents. Look for those two reports to dictate the Dow’s direction when markets open.
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