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On the last trading day of 2012, the Dow Jones Industrial Average's (INDEX: ^DJI ) components ended the day with a perfect record: All 30 stocks were in the green at the end of the regular trading hours.
When the markets closed for the day, it was widely believed that some sort of deal would pass this evening, allowing the U.S. to avoid falling over the fiscal cliff. But just hours ago and after trading had ended, it was announced that the House of Representative would not vote on any deal this evening, sealing the fate of all Americans by sending the nation over the edge.
Congress is scheduled to work tomorrow, New Year's Day. Market participants should expect heavy volume and increased volatility when the markets reopen on Wednesday morning. If the politicians can agree on a compromise tomorrow, depending on the deal, the first trading session of 2013 will likely turn out to be a very good one. But if we are still waiting around for our elected officials to come to an agreement, expect the markets to trade flat at best, but likely down a few percent.
No major economic news was released today, as all eyes were focused intently on Washington and whether they could find a compromise that would avert disaster. As I mentioned, when the markets closed at 4 p.m. ET, it appeared that we would have one and, therefore, when the last closing bell of 2012 rang today, the Dow Jones Industrial Average sat at 13,104, up 166 points or 1.28% for the day. Year to date, the index rose 7.26% during 2012, and it beat 15 of its components. The best performer of the year was Bank of America (NYSE: BAC ) , which rose 108%, while the worst Dow component was Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ ) , which fell by 44% during the year.
Other than Hewlett-Packard, only four other Dow stocks ended the year lower than when they began it. Those stocks were Intel (Nasdaq: INTC ) , which lost 14.97%; McDonald's (NYSE: MCD ) , which fell by 12.08%; Du Pont (NYSE: DD ) down 1.75%; and, finally, Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT ) , which slid lower by 1.09% in 2012.
More foolish insight
Now that we know we are headed over the cliff and with many economists predicting that the U.S. will fall into another recession if it happens, 2013 may produce more losers than 2012 did. But to find one company that The Motley Fool's chief investment officer has selected as his No. 1 stock for the next year, simply click here. In our brand-new free report: "The Motley Fool's Top Stock for 2013." you will find a stock that should produce positive returns in 2013, regardless of what happens to the economy. I invite you, for a limited time, to take your free copy of this insightful report by clicking here.