Why the Dow's Sliding Backward Again Today

Rome wasn't built in a day, and Europe won't be fixed in one, either. Today, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI  ) down 1% near 3 p.m. EDT and the S&P 500 (INDEX: ^GSPC  ) pacing to its biggest loss in a month at a 1.19% drop, investors are once again facing off against European woes.

The situation was worse in Europe itself. The STOXX 50 index, which tracks blue chips across the continent, fell 3%, with financials leading the losses. The big drop in European markets came right around 9 a.m. EDT, when European Central Bank President Mario Draghi discussed how the ECB must be prepared to buy bonds, but still isn't taking any actions. Nor did Draghi announce an interest rate cut that many expected.

The general lack of action led to immediate selling. Investors are divided, with some cheering on German sentiment of austerity and repairing deficits, while others demand the ECB step in and buy up bonds to turn back the tide on widening interest rates. However, one thing almost all investors agree on is that no action right now is bad action. Muddling through this crisis with no concrete plan isn't a sustainable course of action.

Back to U.S. markets
Looking back to U.S. markets, the strongest index so far today has been the Nasdaq (INDEX: ^IXIC  ) , which currently sits at a 0.6% loss. One of the more notable storylines on the Nasdaq is Facebook's (Nasdaq: FB  ) continuing plunge. The company fell below $20 today after going public at $38, leading to mocking jokes about the company splitting its shares so soon.

Facebook has been plummeting across the past month, with its worst fall coming after its first earnings release as a public company. So pinpointing Facebook's drop on any given day can be an exercise in futility. However, today saw several management departures from the company -- not something you want like to see from a pre-eminent Silicon Valley growth company -- and arguments about the company's market cap. As Business Insider's Henry Blodgett points out, when the company went public and headlines were screaming about its $100 billion valuation, investors were using its fully diluted share count. However, many investing websites now list only its basic shares outstanding. The end effect? If you're looking at Facebook's market cap on an investing website, it's quite a bit higher when factoring in fully diluted shares. That is, as high as Facebook's P/E is as listed, it's actually higher.

Looking at large caps in the U.S., the biggest loser today was Alcoa (NYSE: AA  ) . That shouldn't come as too much of a shock. On days when fears arise that Europe could slow global growth rates, Alcoa is normally among the Dow's biggest laggards. Slowing growth across the world is an ominous sign for commodities like aluminum.

Gone today, here tomorrow
That's it for today's checkup. If you're watching Facebook and wondering where the bottom might be, The Motley Fool has just created a premium research report on the company. You'll not only get a report showing Facebook's strengths and weaknesses, but also continuing updates on the company. To get started, just click here now!

Eric Bleeker owns shares of no company listed above. The Motley Fool owns Facebook and newsletter services have recommended the company. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.


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