Why the Dow Is Down Triple-Digits

It's a tough day for blue chips. Roughly halfway through the session, shares in 29 of the 30 companies listed on the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI  ) are trading lower -- and the only one up, Bank of America (NYSE: BAC  ) , is teetering on the brink as well, with a positive margin of only $0.03. As a whole, the index is currently down 160 points, or 1.17%.

The immediate impetus for the decline was a conflicting report issued this morning concerning the housing sector. On the one hand, according to the National Association of Realtors, sales of existing homes decreased 1.7% last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.75 million.

On the other hand, home prices notched their seventh consecutive monthly year-over-year increase, growing 11.3% since September 2011. According to the NAR, the last streak of this length occurred between November 2005 and May 2006. In addition, total housing inventory fell last month by 3.3%. The number of existing houses for sale is now down by 20% on a year-over-year basis.

Beyond the mixed news in housing, traders are currently fixated on the disappointing trend in third-quarter earnings. Technology giants Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) and Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) spooked the market yesterday with disappointing results.

Microsoft's results come amid a growing concern over the state of the personal-computer market and the readiness of its newest operating system, Windows 8. At an employee meeting last month, Intel (Nasdaq: INTC  ) CEO Paul Otellini was quoted as saying that the product wasn't ready for release -- though he did qualify the comment by remarking that releasing it now was nevertheless the right move.

Google caused a stir after its earnings were inadvertently released early due to a clerical error at its financial printer, R.R. Donnelley (Nasdaq: RRD  ) . The search giant's profit slid a surprising 20% from the same quarter a year ago. After closing 8% lower yesterday, shares in the company are down an additional 2.5% today.

And today, McDonald's (NYSE: MCD  ) and General Electric (NYSE: GE  ) picked up the baton, both falling short of expectations in one way or another. McDonald's reported a profit of $1.43 a share compared with the consensus estimate of $1.47. It also acknowledged that same-store sales in October are currently trending lower. If its comps finish the month down, according to The Wall Street Journal, it will be the first time such a thing has happened in nearly a decade.

Meanwhile, General Electric blamed unfavorable currency-exchange rates for revenue figures that missed analysts' estimates by $640 million. According to the company, revenue would have been $1.1 billion higher without the negative impact. Shares in the industrial conglomerate are down in intraday trading by 2.8%

Click here to read more about McDonald's earnings, and click here to read more about General Electric's.

Foolish bottom line
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John Maxfield owns shares of Bank of America. The Motley Fool owns shares of Bank of America, General Electric Company, Google, Intel, McDonald's, and Microsoft. Motley Fool newsletter services recommend Google, Intel, McDonald's, and Microsoft. 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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  • Report this Comment On October 19, 2012, at 1:46 PM, AlanWest wrote:

    The global economy is a train wreck and it won't get better anytime soon. Food, gas and housing costs are going up and up with it all we can do just to get by. Traditional investments are no longer practical for pursuing security.

    The I-Ching "Timewave Zero" prediction confirms what the Mayan calendar has already told us...that major changes to our world will occur in 2013.

    http://www.familysurvivalcenter.com/news.htm#iching2012

    Stop chasing material goals and get your priorities straight. Set aside food and supplies to provide for your family now. Even precious metals will lack real value when you are hungry (you can't eat gold).

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