This morning, it looked as though the stock market would fly high and set some new multi-year records, as the broad market benchmarks advanced sharply. But, by early afternoon, stocks had lost their luster, and the Dow Jones Industrials (INDEX: ^DJI) ended up dropping about half a percent. The Nasdaq and S&P 500 posted somewhat more modest losses.

Leading the Dow down were three stocks in very different industries. Verizon (NYSE: VZ) fell about 1.8%. Although cheaper competitor MetroPCS (NYSE: PCS) came out with an unlimited 4G data plan, the bigger issue that the telecom giant faces is how to deal with the upcoming release of the iPhone 5. On one hand, big subsidies could actually hurt its bottom line, but the company clearly doesn't want to lock itself out of what will inevitably be a blockbuster smartphone release.

Disney (NYSE: DIS) dropped about 1.6%. The multimedia powerhouse said it would move its late-night Jimmy Kimmel Live show up to go head-to-head against David Letterman's and Jay Leno's shows. Despite the move, television viewership has generally hit a period of doldrums in the aftermath of the Olympics. Fortunately for Disney, though, its movie studio and other properties are still in a strong position to pick up the slack, and carry the company forward.

Finally, Merck (NYSE: MRK) lost about 1.8%, more than reversing its gains from yesterday. Despite no obvious news justifying the move, the stock carries a lot of uncertainty, as the company tries to figure out how to respond to the ongoing challenge of replacing blockbuster drugs after their patents expire.

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