Dow Looks Hopeful for Earnings

For the second day in a row, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) posted modest gains while investors again fled the market's most valuable stock. When it was all said and done, the blue chips finished up 28 points, or 0.2%.

The highly anticipated December retail sales report came out today, showing a 0.5% increase over November's figure and a 5.5% jump from the previous year. While the sequential increase beat expectations of just 0.2%, the market widely ignored the report as many individual stocks have already reported downbeat holiday sales and macroeconomic issues such as the debt ceiling also have investors feeling jittery. Factoring out autos, retail sales grew just 0.3%. The December producer price index also dropped 0.2%, showing that inflation is still far from a concern despite the Fed's loose monetary policy.

Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL  ) shares fell another 3.2% as the market continued to digest reports that it halved orders for iPhone parts this quarter. Suppliers for the smartphone such as TTM Technologies and Multi-Fineline Electronix fell sharply as well, as the latter slashed its guidance for the first half of 2013. Apple hit an 11-month low on the day, finishing under $500 for the first time in nearly a year.

Fellow tech darling Facebook (NASDAQ: FB  ) was also getting beaten with the ugly stick today, falling 2.7% in response to the previously hyped "mystery event." The surprise, it turned out, was a new search product that allows users to look through friends' posts for information such as restaurant recommendations or cold remedies. While the search tool only exists within the network, it does bring Facebook closer to competing directly with Google in its rival's specialty. Shares of Yelp (NYSE: YELP  ) , perhaps the closest potential victim to the new feature, fell 6.2%.

There was relatively little action among Dow components today, but Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT  ) announced a new initiative to hire at least 100,000 veterans and purchase an additional $50 billion in an American-made products over the next decade. The retailer called it an effort to reduce unemployment and boost economic growth in its core market. Some critics responded that the company could achieve the same goal by paying its current employees more. The stock finished the day up 1%.

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