No Holiday Bounce for the Dow

Retailers are seeing red today, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) has fallen once again with the end of the year and the fiscal cliff approaching fast. As of 2:15 p.m. EST, the Dow's currently declined 15 points, or 0.1%. A couple big gainers on the Dow are keeping the market from falling further, since most of the index's stocks are in the red today.

Retail on the decline
Investors often expect the retail sector to record a bump during the holiday season, but the end of 2012 hasn't been kind. Data came out today showing sluggish seasonal sales for retailers across America, with growth down from last year's holiday season. The numbers sent retail stocks down across the markets, with Dow member Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT  ) falling 1.1% and retail rivals such as Macy's (NYSE: M  ) and Gap  (NYSE: GPS  ) falling further with losses of 1.8% and 2.7%, respectively.

Even online retail wasn't immune to the slide, as Amazon's (NASDAQ: AMZN  ) shares have slid nearly 4% today.

Other stocks can't keep their eyes off the impending fiscal cliff. UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH  ) , which could see fiscal cliff-related trouble next year in the form of reduced Medicare outlays, ranks among the top Dow laggards of the day. Shares of the insurer have fallen 0.9% so far.

Two of the Dow's tech stocks also continued the sector's slide from Monday's short session. Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT  ) and IBM (NYSE: IBM  ) have lost 0.6% and 0.2%, respectively. Microsoft in particular continues to look vulnerable thanks to the PC market's decline, as competitors surge ahead in the growing mobile market.

It's not all bad on the markets today, however. Alcoa (NYSE: AA  ) , which faces its own fiscal cliff fears, has managed to see shares gain 1.6% today. The gains come despite aluminum's bleak commodity forecasts and credit rating agency Moody's threat to downgrade Alcoa's rating to junk last week.

Bank of America (NYSE: BAC  ) , 2012's best Dow stock, continues its run today. The finance giant has recorded gains of 2.9% today, ignoring the downbeat retailer news to instead focus on a strong report out of housing. To date, Bank of America's now seen shares pick up more than 93% over 2012 and more than 105% in the last 52 weeks.

It's been a good run for Bank of America, but is it too late to enjoy this stock's gains? To learn more about the most-talked-about bank out there, check out our in-depth company report on Bank of America. The report details Bank of America's prospects, including three reasons to buy and three reasons to sell. Just click here to get access.

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