Worries about the Fed's stimulus cutbacks continued to torment investors today as the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) fell for the second day in a row, ending down 1,4%, or 217 points, today to finish at 14,960. It was the first time the blue chips finished below 15,000 in exactly a month, and the descent has been much faster than the climb as the Dow reached its all-time closing high of 15,409 just over a week ago. All 30 Dow components closed lower.
Today, investors reacted to a poor jobs report and the release of the Fed's Beige Book, or its report on current economic conditions, in which it said that the nation's economy was experiencing "modest to moderate" growth, adding that "hiring had increased at a measured pace" in several regions. In an Orwellian state of affairs, investors had recently been reacting positively to bad news, sending stocks higher in the hopes that poor economic data would convince Fed officials to keep the bond-buying program in place. Today, that fever seemed to break as the blue chips fell more than 200 points even with mostly disappointing economic reports.
In a precursor to Friday's official jobs report. payroll processor ADP said only 135,000 private-sector jobs were added in May, short of expectations of 157,000. April factory orders grew by less than expected, and the Institute for Supply Management Services Index grew at 53.7 against expectations of 53.5.
After gaining more than 4% in the first two days of the week, Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) was the worst performer on the Dow, falling 2.6%, after a JPMorgan Chase analyst warned that it and rival Advanced Micro Devices, which finished down 2.5%, would likely report lower-than-expected earnings. JPMorgan pointed out that, among other factors, recent PC sales in Asia had come in below expectations. Analysts from Bernstein Research and Morgan Stanley also reiterated sell-equivalent ratings today, noting that expectations in the PC market have been extremely weak.
Alcoa (NYSE:AA) was another poor performer, falling 2.2% as aluminum prices hovered near three-year lows. Still, prices were rising today in response to a decision by the Chinese state aluminum producer Chalco to temporarily cut capacity by 380,000 tons, or 10% of total output. Alcoa also recently saw itself downgraded to junk status by Moody's.
Fool contributor Jeremy Bowman has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Intel. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.