It was a pretty tame day in the markets, with the major indexes finishing mixed. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI ) was down 0.42% to finish at 13,035.94, while the S&P 500 (INDEX: ^GSPC ) was down 0.12% and the Nasdaq was up 0.26%.
Among the Dow components, Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT ) was the biggest mover in either direction, down 3.13%. The reason was poor manufacturing news from the Institute for Supply Management. Specifically, August's index of national factory activity (the Purchasing Managers' Index) clocked in at 49.6, down 0.2 from July. Since that's below 50.0, it indicates contraction. It was the lowest reading since July 2009, and bad news for manufacturing is generally bad news for Caterpillar.
Unlike Caterpillar, the other two major stocks that made water-cooler news today -- Facebook (Nasdaq: FB ) and Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) -- are new-economy stocks.
Facebook shares hit new lows today, dropping 1.8% and closing at $17.73. Since its $38 IPO in May, it's been an ugly ride for Facebook on the stock market front. Today, lead underwriter Morgan Stanley marked its 12-month Facebook price target down from $38 to $32. Meanwhile, an analyst with fellow underwriter JPMorgan Chase cut his price target for the end of 2013 from a loftier $45 to $30. Note that even that's almost a 70% gain from today's close.
The news on Apple, though nothing earth-shattering, was more positive and sent its shares up 1.46%. Apple sent out a media invite for a 10 a.m. PT product announcement on Sept.12. With the world awaiting the iPhone 5, most expect Apple to unveil it then. Apple seemed to indicate that as well. Its invitation featured the tagline "It's almost here" above a bold number 12 casting a shadow shaped like the number "5." Once again, Apple's product launches are some of the best marketing in the business.
For an in-depth analysis of Apple's prospects, get our premium Apple report.