Another Down Day for the Dow

With just slightly more than three days left until we fall off the edge of of the edge of the fiscal cliff, plummeting from prosperity back into the land of recession, investors seem to be selling their winners but are hesitant to add that capital back into the markets. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) is again down today, and the other two major indexes are following along. As of 12:40 pm E.S.T. the Dow is lower by 65 points, or 0.50%, and now sits at 13,030. The S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC  ) is down 0.4%, while the Nasdaq (NASDAQINDEX: ^IXIC  ) is lower by 0.18%. Currently 25 of the Dow's 30 components are trading in the red. Three of the biggest losers are Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ  ) , ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM  ) , and Chevron (NYSE: CVX  ) .

So why are they down?
Shares of Hewlett-Packard are leading all Dow losers today after falling 2%. The slide comes after it was announced that the Justice Department is investigating the company's Autonomy unit. A few months ago, Hewlett-Packard took an $8.8 billion writedown after it realized Autonomy wasn't worth the $10 billion that it had paid for the software company. Hewlett-Packard said about $5 billion of charge-off was due to improper accounting at Autonomy.  

While I wouldn't advise anyone to buy shares of Hewlett-Packard today, I also wouldn't recommend current shareholders to sell at this time. The market seems to be overreacting to this news. HP has already written down the purchase and made it public knowledge that they believe the Autonomy unit had improper accounting prior to it joining the PC company. As long as Hewlett-Packard didn't allow the improper accounting principles to continue once it owned the company, shareholders should not have anything to worry about at this time other than a few days of bad press.

Shares of the Dow's big oil companies, ExxonMobil and Chevron, are moving lower today by enough to make them the second- and third-biggest losers on the index at this time. ExxonMobil is down 1.3% while Chevron has slid 1.48% lower. Today marks the third consecutive day for both companies to have their stocks fall into the red. The streak began on Wednesday, after the resignation of Lisa Jackson, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency. The biggest concerns for shareholders is what Jackson's successor will have to say about the controversial fracking technique for extracting oil and gas out of the ground. Some believe that if the wrong person takes the job, fracking could be shut down in the coming years, which would hammer the big energy companies in the U.S. 

Despite the dip of big oil in the Dow, if you're on the lookout for some currently intriguing energy plays, check out The Motley Fool's "3 Stocks for $100 Oil." You can get free access to this special report by clicking here.


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