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This is a week for the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI ) to forget. After four straight sessions in the red, the Dow looks to mark a fifth consecutive day of losses as it's down 19 points, or 0.15%, as of 1:45 p.m. ET. Stocks are split between gainers and losers, but one notable sector is weighing down the entire index. Let's get up to speed on why the Dow's ending the week with a whimper.
Who's up, who's down
On the broad scale, the wearily familiar topic of Spain's ongoing fiscal catastrophe has investors worried about the nation's economic future and its impact on Europe. The Spanish government continues to put off moving toward requesting a bailout from the EU, with the country's Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, denying Spain even needs a full bailout. The IMF's downbeat forecast for the region's near-future growth earlier this week surely isn't helping sentiments as both the Dow and major European indices fell into the red today.
Financials fell on the news, helped along by today's downbeat Q3 report from Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC ) and concerns over this quarter's earnings across the sector. Shareholders at JPMorgan (NYSE: JPM ) mostly ignored the bank's positive earnings as the company has fallen 1.6% on the day. Bank of America (NYSE: BAC ) led the sector and the Dow in the losers column, falling 3%. B of A will report earnings next Wednesday, but it seems investors are already fearful of the date given Wells Fargo's disappointment.
Tech beat the Dow's downward trend today, however. IBM (NYSE: IBM ) and Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT ) have both recorded gains above half a percent on the day. Even much-maligned Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ ) has beaten its recent slump to rise 0.7% as of 1:45 p.m. Given HP's struggles in other arenas, however -- the former leading PC producer just relinquished its title to Lenovo -- investors shouldn't take today's modest gains as indicative of future trends.
Time to make your move
Next week will be one to watch for those of you invested in the Dow. With numerous earnings reports on tap for some of the market's biggest names, the Dow could easily have investors forgetting all about this week's poor performance -- or mire stocks in an even larger slide.
Bank of America might be the most interesting company reporting next week – after all, shares of the bank have appreciated more than 60% in 2012 so far. A good earnings release could send shares even higher -- but does that make this company a buy? You’ll find out in the Fool’s complete guide to Bank of America, detailing all the need-to-know facts about what’s in store for the company’s future. To get the information you need, simply click here.