Fed Fallout: Dow Sheds 353 Points as Stocks Plummet

If you've ever, for some reason, wanted to see what a hangover looks like on Wall Street, look no further. In the hours after Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke outlined rough plans for an end to quantitative easing efforts yesterday, markets retreated big time. Then, markets slept on the news, only to return with a renewed and very evident anxiety. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) plummeted 353 points, or 2.3%, to end at 14,758. There wasn't a single Dow stock that escaped the carnage today: all 30 components ended in the red.

All 10 major sectors lost more than 2% Thursday, in a remarkably consistent display of unified underperformance. Luckily for Cisco Systems (NASDAQ: CSCO  ) , the technology sector slipped less than the other nine market areas, which helped Cisco earn the top spot in the Dow, losing only 1%. The company, which only initiated a dividend in recent years, used to focus more on share repurchases, but now rewards shareholders with a nearly 3% dividend. 

Aluminum giant Alcoa (NYSE: AA  ) was the second best blue-chip performer, stumbling "just" 1.2%. Earlier this week, the company finished building a facility in the U.K. that quadruples its capacity for aluminum alloy production, a material it sells to the aerospace industry. But Alcoa isn't just expanding its operations abroad; the company is building an entire new plant in Indiana, dedicated to aluminum lithium production, by the end of the year.

Intel (NASDAQ: INTC  ) shares ended toward the bottom of the Dow today, slumping 3.3%. Just as the markets might have overreacted today to the potential effects of Fed tapering, today's Intel sell-off isn't grounded firmly in rationality, and there wasn't a major catalyst driving the decline. One genuine reason for concern with Intel is the struggling PC market, which is surrendering more and more sales each year to mobile devices.

But Walt Disney (NYSE: DIS  ) ended as the worst performing Dow stock, losing 3.7% today. The slide was predicated by comments from a Goldman Sachs analyst Thursday, as Goldman removed Disney shares from its "conviction buy" list, and gave Disney stock a "neutral" rating. The downgrade cited declining profits from ESPN next year; the Disney-owned sports station currently generates 45% of Disney's operating income.

When it comes to dominating markets, it doesn't get much better than Intel's position in the PC microprocessor arena. However, that market is maturing, and Intel finds itself in a precarious situation longer term if it doesn't find new avenues for growth. In this premium research report on Intel, a Motley Fool analyst runs through all of the key topics investors should understand about the chip giant. Click here now to learn more.


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