The Dow's Kicking Off the Week in a Dive

Cyber Monday's not giving any relief to the markets today, and the major indexes are starting the last week of November deep in the red. As of 2:05 p.m. EST, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI  ) is down 76 points, or 0.58%, to dip back below the 13,000 mark. One tech gainer is making the most out of this day, but bulls are hard to come by on the Dow: Only six stocks are in the green today.

More cliff worries
It's impossible to escape market stories with the word "fiscal cliff" in them these days, but the dreaded phrase is rearing its ugly head again today. While the European Central Bank did give a slight boost to stocks as it considered giving up profit on Greek debt, the challenge for lawmakers in coming up with a deal for the fiscal cliff before it strikes in January has Wall Street nervous. As PNC Asset Management Group chief investment strategist Bill Stone remarked: "We wouldn't be surprised if we don't get a deal until next year, though no doubt they are going to try. But they are further away than the early good rhetoric would have made you feel."

Don't tell Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ  ) there's a bearish session underway, however. The beleaguered tech stock has defied today's drop, as shares are up more than 3% to lead all Dow stocks by a huge margin. The market may be correcting somewhat for the giant plunge in HP's share price after its nearly $9 billion writedown over the company's Autonomy purchase. With HP alleging fraud on Autonomy's part, expect more volatility from the stock as the case plays out.

Plenty of red on the day
HP's the only real winner of the day, however. UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH  ) has had a much different session, with shares down 1.35% to rank among the top Dow laggards. The health care giant predicted full-year earnings of between $5.25 and $5.50 per share, falling below analyst projections and sending the stock down.

Consumer goods stocks aren't having a good day, either, as both Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO  ) and McDonald's (NYSE: MCD  ) have fallen, with shares losing about 1.4% each. McDonald's shares were downgraded to neutral by Lazard Capital, which cited toughening competition, among other concerns. The fast-food giant missed on earnings in the most recent quarter.

It's not a good day for many investors on the markets, as losses have crossed sector bounds -- from telecoms, where AT&T (NYSE: T  ) has fallen 1.1%, to tech, where Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) is down 1.7% to lead all Dow laggards.

That doesn't mean you can't profit from today's sell-off, however -- particularly with McDonald's losses providing an appealing opportunity. After making investors rich in 2011, McDonald's has been one of the worst-performing blue-chip stocks this year. Our top analyst on the company will tell you whether you should be worried by this trend, and he'll also shed light on whether McDonald's is a buy at today's prices. Click here now to read our premium research report on the company.


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