Why the Dow Fell Today

All three major indexes fell today, but each less than 1%. Here's where we stand:

  Gain (Loss) % Change Ending Value
Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI  ) (115.30) (0.88%) 13,057.46
Nasdaq (INDEX: ^IXIC  ) (20.27) (0.66%) 3,053.40
S&P 500 (INDEX: ^GSPC  ) (11.41) (0.81%) 1,402.08

 

The reason the financial press is giving:
On Wednesday, the Federal Open Market Committee's meeting minutes from its July 31 – August 1 meeting were released. Folks analyzing them glommed onto this line: "Many members judged that additional monetary accommodation would likely be warranted fairly soon unless incoming information pointed to a substantial and sustainable strengthening in the pace of the economic recovery." In other words, the Fed was signaling a possible third round of buying bonds to help stimulate the economy.  

But today, James Bullard, the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis President, went on CNBC and declared the release "a bit stale and said that "I wouldn't do it right now. If it was just me, and we just have the data up until today, I wouldn't take a decision right now."

So, bottom line, no one knows when, or if, that third round is coming. Either way, today's stock market movement was minor. Let's move on to the more interesting company-specific news.

The big Dow loser: Hewlett Packard (NYSE: HPQ  )
All but two of the 30 Dow components fell today, but HP was by far the biggest dropper. The third quarter earnings that it reported last night actually beat estimates ($1.00 vs. $0.98). Of course, those non-GAAP earnings were lower than last year's $1.10 tally, and excluded $10.8 billion of goodwill impairments, restructuring charges, and other so-called "one-time items" that took their GAAP earnings to a negative $4.49.

The market apparently wasn't pleased with HP's turnaround plans, with some commentators fearing deteriorating margins, due to competition, macro concerns, and/or reaching for market share.

On the plus side, HP was able to take its net debt down $1.5 billion from last quarter.

The after-hours loser: Autodesk (Nasdaq: ADSK  )
After hours, the $8 billion computer-aided design software company Autodesk made waves. Its shares fell more than 20% after it reported a disappointing quarter, and lowered its sales guidance well below analysts' expectations. Perhaps it's a fitting software complement to hardware maker HP's rough day.

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Fool contributor Anand Chokkavelu doesn't own shares of any stock mentioned. 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 insightsmakes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.


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