Why the Dow's Falling Back From 14,000

After a big blizzard over the weekend, Wall Street is having trouble getting into the groove of things this morning. Although New York City didn't get nearly as much snow as Boston and harder-hit areas of New England, market volume was somewhat light. Politics may drive the markets, though: Leaders within the eurozone will meet to discuss the financial crisis there, while negotiations over automatic spending cuts set to take effect at the beginning of March continueon Capitol Hill. The Dow Jones Industrials (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) were down about 25 points as of 10:45 a.m. EST, dropping away from the 14,000 mark.

Within the Dow, Home Depot (NYSE: HD  ) fell nearly 1%. With the home-improvement retailer having done well in the aftermath of other major storms -- particularly Hurricane Sandy -- it's unusual to see it drop after the snowstorm. But after advancing so strongly over the past year, Home Depot's stock has already priced in a huge amount of growth, so a small decline to wait for earnings to catch up to the stock price isn't cause for alarm.

Elsewhere, Diamond Foods (NASDAQ: DMND  ) has soared 11.2%. The snack-food giant has been under a blanket of controversy ever since its proposed acquisition of Pringles from Procter & Gamble went south, forcing P&G to turn to Kellogg to complete the purchase. Yet even with billionaire investor Ken Fisher having sold off his holdings of the stock recently, some value investors still believe a turnaround is possible.

Finally, Caesars Entertainment (NASDAQ: CZR  ) fell 5%, giving back a small portion of the nearly 40% it gained on Friday after New Jersey Governor Chris Christie opened the door to the possibility of legalized online gaming in the state. With a major presence in Atlantic City, Caesars and Boyd Gaming (NYSE: BYD  ) both stand to gain a lot from the move, but online gaming won't solve all the debt problems that Caesars has had to deal with lately.

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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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