Dow Battles Back but Still Falls

After falling nearly 1% by midday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) recovered most of its losses by the end of the session, finishing down 42 points, or 0.3%. Europe again seemed to be the culprit, as European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said at a policy meeting that he wanted to keep the Euro's value down in order to encourage exports, a move that could cut into sales for American multinationals. Draghi also said the eurozone economy would remain weak in the first half of the year, but would begin to recover toward the end of 2013.

Initial unemployment claims fell slightly, to 366,000, but that still topped estimates of 360,000. The productivity rate also declined 2% in the fourth quarter, according to another Labor Department report.

Famed hedge-fund manager David Einhorn was back in the news today, this time saying his Greenlight Capital fund would sue Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL  ) over its desire to eliminate the possibility of issuing preferred shares. Einhorn is frustrated at Apple's unwillingness to return some of its massive cash pile to shareholders, and wants it to create a preferred-stock class and pay those shareholders a higher dividend. Apple shares popped late in the session after it issued a statement saying the board was discussing ways to return cash to shareholders and would consider Greenlight's proposal.

American Express (NYSE: AXP  ) led Dow stocks today, gaining 2.6%, after rival Visa beat estimates on top and bottom lines in its quarterly report. The credit card issuer was also boosted by reports from a number of retail chains showing better-than-expected same-store sales in January despite the payroll tax hike. Consumers also took on more debt than expected in December, according to the Federal Reserve's report.

JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM  ) found itself in more hot water today after Dexia, a European bank, presented internal emailsl from JPMorgan in court showing that JPMorgan knowingly sold bad mortgage debt despite an independent analysis showing a significant number of the loans didn't meet underwriting guidelines. Shares of the banking giant fell 0.8% on the day.

After hours, shares of professional networking specialist LinkedIn (NYSE: LNKD  ) shot up 9.8% on a strong earnings report. Revenue and earnings both topped estimates, as EPS rose to $0.35, nearly double the $0.19 that Wall Street expected, and revenue jumped 81%, to $303 million. International sales more than doubled, and now contribute nearly 40% of overall revenue, and membership topped 200 million.

Are you at ease ... or nervous? It's been a great five-year run for investors, with the Dow and S&P at or near all-time highs. Yet, fears abound. When will the next downturn hit? Will political gridlock lead to portfolio-killing inflation? To learn how to protect your portfolio, click here for free guidance from the Motley Fool Pro Academy!


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