After losing 2.5% in October in a lead-up to the November elections, The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI ) has already lost more than 4.2% of its value in the first half of this month alone. Today, worries remained about the outcome of the fiscal cliff, and the Dow lost 28 points, or 0.23%, to close at 12,542.
Wal-Mart Stores (NYSE: WMT ) didn't help things; its earnings forecast was below what analysts were expecting, and the stock swiftly fell by 3.6% as a result, the steepest decline in all the Dow. Due to Wal-Mart's immense size and exposure to the U.S. economy, its financial performance and guidance is considered a relatively good gauge for the country's macroeconomic health. Wal-Mart's underwhelming guidance was another catalyst for today's broader market fall.
Conversely, Bank of America (NYSE: BAC ) shares rallied back some today, gaining more than 1% just a day after falling 3.6%, which was the biggest decline in the index. Joining Bank of America in rally mode on Thursday was Cisco Systems (Nasdaq: CSCO ) , which was the top performer in the Dow for the second day in a row today, tacking on around 1.6%. Investors have been bidding up the stock since the company announced surprisingly upbeat quarterly results after the bell on Tuesday.
Struggling chipmaker Advanced Micro Devices (NYSE: AMD ) , on the other hand, was a notable underachiever in the tech landscape, dropping more than 3%. The recent bad news to hit AMD's shares was the company's announcement that it would not be putting itself up for sale, which has sent shares to a 21-year low. AMD has had a rough 2012, losing almost 65% of its market cap along the way. PC-maker Dell (Nasdaq: DELL ) has gone through a similarly difficult year itself, losing more than 35% since Jan 1. It announced earnings after hours today, and shares fell in the aftermarket on a 47% drop in earnings.