It's an 0 for 30 day on the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI ) . As of 1:15 p.m. EDT, zero of the 30 Dow components are showing gains. Overall, the Dow finds itself down 1.2%, exceeding the losses of both the S&P 500 (INDEX: ^GSPC ) at 1.15% and the Nasdaq's (INDEX: ^IXIC ) 0.88% drop.
We're into our third day of falling markets, and the reason is the same old storyline: Europe. The newest trend is failing regional governments like Catalonia in Spain and Sicily in Italy. This event might sound familiar to investors in the United States -- local governments here long ago started to crumble under their debt burdens.
However, the difference is that in the United States, we've seen the actual state-level governments be able to hold on even if their budgets are bleeding red. Bankruptcies have been happening at the municipal level, like in cities and counties. Europe's woes are affecting provinces and autonomous regions, which is a step up on the "uh-oh" scale.
Another key difference from the United States is that even if states began to fail, there would likely still be faith in the federal government. That's not the case in Spain or Italy right now. Upon news that Spain's Catalonia was studying a plan for government aid, yields on Spanish debt once again rose. The scary part is that Spanish yields are soaring across shorter maturities.
Five-year Spanish bond yields recently came just 5 basis points below their 10-year debt. That's important because Spain has been trying to borrow at shorter time lengths to avoid the huge borrowing costs it was encountering auctioning off 10-year notes. However, investors are now slamming the door shut on buying bonds with shorter maturities. With Europe just having cooled down after creating a eurowide banking supervisor, more action could soon be needed if Spain's debt market continues its downward spiral.
Looking back stateside, one of the biggest losers in the markets today is Cisco (Nasdaq: CSCO ) , which is down 5.85%. The company didn't report last night, but is taking it on the chin after VMware (NYSE: VMW ) announced a $1.05 billion buy of networking company Nicira. VMware is the 800-pound gorilla of virtualization, the technology which increases server utilization (making them more efficient) and enables cloud computing. The fear today is that VMware buying Nicera could reduce the value of switches, which is Cisco's most valuable product.
The headlines don't look good for Cisco, but it's important to remember that advanced technologies like networking are exceedingly complicated with many moving parts. How much of a threat VMware poses to Cisco's business after this acquisition remains to be seen.
More long-term ideas
It's easy to get hung up on the ups and downs of the day-to-day market, but the best stocks can get you through troubled times. For some ideas from the Dow, check out The Motley Fool's latest special report, where we discuss three stocks for growth and dividend investors alike. The report is absolutely free, so just click here and get your copy today.