Political Tension Leads to a Choppy Dow

All the optimism from yesterday's political push toward a solution to the fiscal cliff has gone out the window. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) has retreated slightly from the two-month highs it set yesterday, sliding 35 points as of 2:20 p.m. EST. Most Dow stocks are in the red, and two fiscal-cliff-wary industrials are dragging on the index as a whole.

Back to the fiscal-cliff drawing board
After House Republicans presented a plan to deal with the fiscal cliff's tax hikes, the White House today responded by rejecting that plan. As Washington looks set to keep playing politics, stocks have responded by dipping lower today.

Industrials, which are vulnerable to the economic slump that could occur if the fiscal cliff comes to pass, have nosedived on the day. The Dow's two biggest losers, General Electric (NYSE: GE  ) and Alcoa (NYSE: AA  ) , have seen shares fall 2.8% and 3%, respectively. Yesterday there was more bad news for Alcoa investors when ratings agency Moody's announced a review that may cut the company's credit rating to "junk."

Financials aren't having a much better day. While JPMorgan (NYSE: JPM  ) is managing to stay flat, Bank of America (NYSE: BAC  ) and American Express (NYSE: AXP  ) have each seen shares lose more than 1.2%. The fiscal cliff's passing could certainly put a halt to B of A's surge, cutting short a year-long rally that has seen the stock climb more than 95% in 2012.

UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH  ) is also down, being one of the stocks heavily tied to the fate of the fiscal cliff. If the U.S. goes over the cliff and Medicare outlays decline, the insurance giant could see margins hurt as the nation's population ages and relies more on Medicare for increasing health care needs.

There are few winners today, but Boeing (NYSE: BA  ) has managed to pick up gains of 0.4%. The aerospace giant announced a raise in its quarterly dividend recently, along with a continuation of its stock buyback program. That should have shareholders smiling.

United Technologies (NYSE: UTX  ) has led the day's gainers, picking up 1.3%.

Alcoa's one stock that could be hammered by the fiscal cliff, but it has its upsides, as well. Representing 14.7% of 2011 global production in this highly consolidated industry, Alcoa is in prime position to take advantage of growth that some expect will lead to total industry revenue approaching $160 billion by 2017. Based on this prospective and several other company-specific factors, Alcoa is certainly worth a closer look. For a Foolish investment perspective on this global giant, simply click here to get started.


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