Why the Dow Reversed Yesterday’s Gains

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A day after positive retail sales news from December put the markets in a good mood, Wall Street forgot all about any transient reasons to smile from yesterday. Plagued by some unflattering World Bank growth projections and at least one company-specific PR nightmare, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) fell 23 points, or 0.17%, to close at 13,511. 

Speaking of moods, shares of Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ  ) can fairly be diagnosed as manic-depressive. After falling 2.5% yesterday after a hot start to 2013 and an abysmal 2012, shares jumped 4.1% today, although for good reason. On Wednesday, The Wall Street Journal reported that HP has been fielding offers for struggling business units Autonomy and Electronic Data Systems, former acquisitions on which the company took billions of dollars of writedowns. 

Bank of America (NYSE: BAC  ) joins HP as a top performer in the index today, gaining 2%. Investors got psyched about what they could hear from the earnings report tomorrow morning. Why? Encouraging signs about the health of investment banking, to which Bank of America has broad exposure with Merrill Lynch. Rival Goldman Sachs spiked over 4% today after big yearly gains in underwriting fees, which should be good news for Merrill. 

Yet again on Wednesday, Boeing (NYSE: BA  ) proved itself to be the nightmare of the Dow. The company, which makes the new 787 Dreamliner airplane, has seen spontaneous fires, fuel leaks, safety inspections, and now grounded fleets in a series of unfortunate events since Jan. 7. Shareholders expressed their discontent after Japan Airlines' parking of 24 Dreamliners sent the stock 3.4% lower today. 

American International Group (NYSE: AIG  ) also joined Bank of America and Goldman Sachs in the financial rally today, rising 2%. Interestingly, if the reasons AIG advanced today end up coming to fruition, it may spell bad news for Goldman. That's because AIG rallied on hopes that the government will allow it to sue banks from which it bought bad mortgages. It's already embroiled in lawsuits with Bank of America over the same issue. 

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