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This week has been relatively boring, with little volatility in the post-QE3 announcement calm. However, expect things to pick up tomorrow ahead of options expiration on Friday. As for today, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI ) finished up 13 points, or 0.1%, matched by nearly identical gains in the S&P 500 and Nasdaq.
On the Dow, the vast majority of the index was in the green, although several individual components dragged down the overall performance. The largest decliner was ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM ) , as the oil major saw its shares drop 1.2% with crude oil prices continuing their weeklong freefall. Sustained selling has driven the price per barrel from $100 down to $91 in just a few short days. While some want to point to Saudi Arabia's desire to drive prices down, more likely we're seeing a trifecta of post-QE3 rally profit-taking, larger-than-expected inventory data, and continued concerns over a global slowdown, despite strength in the domestic housing market. Fellow Dow component Chevron (NYSE: CVX ) also sold off, but to a much more modest 0.3%.
Other notable decliners include Hewlett-Packard, down 0.8% amid rumors it's looking to sell IT subsidiary EDS -- yes, the 4-year-old train wreck of an acquisition that prompted new CEO Meg Whitman to write down an $8 billion non-cash charge. HP denies the sale, but if the company wanted to completely divorce itself from former CEO Mark Hurd's purchase, now, while the company is reorganizing, would not be a bad time to do it.
Finally, Intel (Nasdaq: INTC ) was down 0.9% on news that highly regarded Executive Vice President Sean Maloney, who ran the company's China operations, will be retiring. However, he was no longer seen as a likely CEO candidate after suffering a stroke. His recovery has been remarkable and his contributions to Intel considerate, but today's move is not about the loss of an executive but the continuation of concerns over the state of the PC market that has weighed on the chipmaker ever since a negative earnings preview earlier this month, highlighting a weak upcoming quarter.
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