Why the Dow Plunged Below 14,000 This Morning

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) got a lot of attention over the weekend after pushing beyond the 14,000 level for the first time in more than five years on Friday. But what the market gives, the market often takes away, and the Dow's latest milestone proved to be short-lived when the average posted triple-digit losses this morning. Most commentators are blaming concerns about Europe's economy and a slightly weaker U.S. factory-orders report, but after the market's huge gains in January, the pullback could well be caused by traders taking profits and running. As of 10:45 a.m. EST, the Dow is down 110 points, or 0.8%, while the broader market measures fell a bit less in percentage terms.

Within the Dow, Travelers (NYSE: TRV  ) was the biggest decliner, falling more than 2%. Although the company posted smaller losses related to Hurricane Sandy than many had feared, the real long-term question is whether Travelers will be able to hike rates further in order to compensate for possible losses in the future. Inevitably, competitive pressures restrict how much any single company can boost rates, and that may be one reason why investors are backing away from the stock after it hit all-time highs last week.

Elsewhere, Herbalife (NYSE: HLF  ) plunged 6.4% after part of Bill Ackman's bear case started playing itself out: Reports say the Federal Trade Commission is investigating the company. Since giving his justification for a massive short position in Herbalife, Ackman has created a hedge-fund battle royale, with activist investors Carl Icahn and Third Point's Dan Loeb taking the bullish view of the stock. Ackman alleged that Herbalife is a pyramid scheme and called on the FTC and other regulators to take action against the company, so fear of that very action has pushed shares down today.

Finally, Acme Packet (UNKNOWN: APKT.DL  ) soared 22% after Oracle (NYSE: ORCL  ) agreed to buy the communications equipment company. The move is an interesting one for Oracle, as Acme's equipment focus is a bit of a departure for the software giant. Still, with Oracle trying to join the crowd of tech giants delivering one-stop solutions for clients, Acme would give it an essential component in providing customers with what they need.

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