Early signs of a slowing economy have investors nervous today. The ISM Index, a closely watched indicator of manufacturing activity, came in at 49.5% today, lower than the 51.7% investors expected. This indicates a slight slowdown in manufacturing activity and has pushed the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) down 0.4% and the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC ) down 0.5% as of 3:20 p.m. EST.
Given weak manufacturing data, it should be no surprise that General Electric (NYSE: GE ) , DuPont (NYSE: DD ) , and 3M (NYSE: MMM ) are three of the biggest losers on the Dow today. Not only are these companies manufacturers, but they also rely on other businesses for much of their revenue. A slowdown in manufacturing on a large scale will have a big impact on these companies.
Energy stocks are also down despite the fact that oil is up slightly today. ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM ) and Chevron (NYSE: CVX ) are down 0.6% and 1%, respectively, as investors worry about an economic slowdown. These companies are already dealing with declining consumption in the U.S., and further upward pricing pressure could hurt them going forward.
This is one of the first real indicators that businesses and consumers are starting to cut back as we head toward the fiscal cliff. But as with the debt ceiling debate, the cutbacks may be lifted when uncertainty is cleared up. That means it's time to prepare ourselves by buying when uncertainty is high.
To learn more about a few ETFs that have great promise for delivering profits to shareholders in a recovering global economy, check out The Motley Fool's special free report: "3 ETFs Set to Soar During the Recovery." Just click here to access it now.