The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI) fell 0.4% today, and it wasn't the usual European culprit that sent stocks southbound today.

Stocks started off on a sour note today on weak U.S. manufacturing news, as the Institute for Supply Management's Purchasing Managers' Index declined for a third straight month in August and reached its lowest level since July 2009. This showing, of course, furthers the notion that the tepid U.S. recovery is losing steam in the second half of the year.

In similar fashion, the S&P 500 dropped 0.1%. The Nasdaq, meanwhile, escaped unscathed, rising 0.3% during today's trading session. In a sign of investor anxiety, the market's so-called "fear gauge," or the VIX (INDEX: ^VIX), spiked nearly 3%. However, several stories drove some stocks to trim their losses late in the session.

Around the markets
Shares of consumer-electronics uberpower Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) rose 1.6% as the company sent out invitations for its highly anticipated event on Sept. 12, which everyone and his mom expects to feature the latest update to its highly popular iPhone series of products – the iPhone 5. The invitation itself effectively tells the viewer Apple's intention:

Apple Event

Not too subtle. Think the number in that shadow is any kind of coincidence? I'll gladly take any bets saying otherwise.

However, Apple wasn't the only prominent storyline that investors should note today. In other tech news, shares of Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX) plummeted 6.4% on news that its archrival, Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN), secured a multiyear licensing deal for its Prime service with cable company Epix. This deal will enable the growing e-commerce powerhouse to further compete with Netflix in its bread-and-butter streaming market and will let Prime subscribers access hits such as The Avengers, Iron Man 2, The Hunger Games, Super 8, Thor, and many more. The move also brings Amazon's streaming arsenal to a formidable 25,000. If I were a Netfilx shareholder, I'd be scared, too.

In yet more, albeit probably unsurprising, tech news, shares of social-networking fallen star Facebook dropped 1.8% to close at a new all-time low. Adding insult to injury, Morgan Stanley, the lead underwriter in Facebook's now-infamous IPO, sparked today's sell-off after its own research department lowered its price targets on the reeling stock.

Where to go from here
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