Why the Dow Suddenly Plunged This Morning

Just because the market looks like it's going to open higher doesn't mean that those gains will last. This morning was a classic example, as stocks roared to a good-sized gain at the open only to give up all those gains and then some. Most analysts attributed the reversal to testimony of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke before the Senate Banking Committee, which included concerns about stubbornly high unemployment and the need for the federal government to address its huge budget deficit. But Bernanke's testimony notably lacked new ideas on how the Fed might ease its monetary policy. By just after 10:45 a.m. EDT, the Dow Jones Industrials (INDEX: ^DJI  ) were down about 75 points after having been up 70 earlier in the session.

In earnings news among Dow stocks, Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO  ) was up more than 1% after beating analyst estimates, reporting earnings per share of $1.22 excluding one-time items on 3% sales growth. The company actually earned less than it did in the year-ago quarter, but a decline in share count boosted the EPS figure. Although ingredient costs increased and Europe was slow, growth in other international markets, especially India, helped power the beverage giant higher.

Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ  ) , on the other hand, fell just less than 1% after including a profit warning in its quarterly results. Net income fell by nearly 50% over the year-ago quarter, with the strong dollar weighing down sales, which fell 0.7%. Although the company managed to beat estimates, J&J expects to earn $0.07 to $0.10 less per share for the full year. That's consistent with a similar move Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG  ) made last month, which also cited currency impacts.

Finally, Disney (NYSE: DIS  ) rose nearly 2%, hitting a new yearly high after getting favorable comments from Wall Street analyst Jessica Reif Cohen. Despite Disney's bull run so far this year, Cohen points to further upside from lucrative blockbusters in the box office as well as strength in its theme parks and media business. Despite substantial competition, Disney is well placed to take advantage of the premium that companies are putting on content.

Keep those reports coming
You can expect earnings reports to continue to move the market. Make sure you've got a long-term game plan for the Dow by reading The Motley Fool's latest special report, in which we dissect the Dow to come up with three stocks for growth and dividend investors alike. The report is absolutely free, so just click here and get your copy today.

Fool contributor Dan Caplinger doesn't own shares of the companies mentioned. You can follow him on Twitter @DanCaplinger. The Motley Fool owns shares of Johnson & Johnson, Disney, and Coca-Cola. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Coca-Cola, Procter & Gamble, Disney, and Johnson & Johnson, as well as creating a diagonal call position in Johnson & Johnson. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Fool has a disclosure policy.


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