Why the Dow Has Dumped Its Gains

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI  ) got off to a great start this morning, but the index has since shed its gains to record a mere six-point rise as of 2 p.m. EDT. At this rate, the index looks as if it could continue a three-day slumping spree by today's close. From one sector leading the bearish charge to a few notable risers, let's check out who's sinking and swimming in the Dow so far today.

After the U.S. Department of Labor released a report today outlining the drop in jobless claims to a low not seen in more than four years, the Dow jumped a hundred points in early trading. Questionable content in the jobs report -- namely, that an unspecified major state failed to accurately relay expected quarterly numbers -- put a damper on the celebrations, sparking the index's fall in later trading. Still, the Dow balanced bad news, including S&P's credit-rating cut on Spain and record unemployment figures out of Greece, with one financial firm's bullish sentiments.

Citigroup (NYSE: C  ) released some good news for investors everywhere. The major bank expects domestic stocks to outperform their international peers next year, even as bank strategists caution of risks to this quarter's earnings growth. Citi cited the Fed's recent monetary actions and the rebounding housing market as key factors in its assessment. The report kicked financial firms higher, led by Dow daily leader Bank of America (NYSE: BAC  ) , up 1.25% as of 2:15 p.m. EDT. Renewed vigor in housing construction will surely also boost companies involved in that space, including major manufacturers.

Speaking of manufacturers, one company in the sector having a bad week has turned things around today. Alcoa (NYSE: AA  ) shook off the rust from earlier in the week to rank among the day's Dow leaders with gains of 1%. Given its losses, Alcoa's management had to be happy about Citi's report. Sustained housing growth should spark renewed demand for the company's metal products domestically as international growth, particularly in China and Europe, continues to slow. Aerospace manufacturer Boeing (NYSE: BA  ) kept the good news coming with a $5 billion sale to Alaska Airlines, rising 1% so far today.

On the losing side, the telecom giants have plunged on news of toughening competition. With news out that Japanese firm Softbank has engaged in talks to buy a majority share in much-maligned Sprint (NYSE: S  ) , Dow competitors Verizon (NYSE: VZ  ) and AT&T (NYSE: T  ) shed 0.9% and 1.3%, respectively, to rank among the Dow's leading losers. Although Sprint still wouldn't rank anywhere near Verizon and AT&T, which sit atop the telecom pyramid, a financial bulwark could still introduce renewed vigor to the struggling company.

It's disappointing to see the Dow drop its recent gains, but investors always need to keep an eye on such volatility and its impact on any portfolio. Fortunately, daily leaders such as Bank of America today can always soften the losses. Follow up on the Dow's best stock today with the Fool’s premium guide to Bank of America, highlighting all the risks and possibilities ahead for this financial firm with a full year of updates.

Dan Carroll has no positions in the stocks mentioned above. The Motley Fool owns shares of Bank of America and Citigroup Inc. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


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