Markets Pause After Yesterday's Plunge

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over daily movements, we do like to keep an eye on market changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

Yesterday the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) lost 225 points -- that's more in one day than it lost in all of last week, which was the worst week for the Dow since mid-June. But as of 12:45 p.m. EDT today, the index is off by only 20 points, or 0.13%, while the other major indexes are slightly mixed. The S&P 500 is down 0.17%, while the NASDAQ is higher by 0.17%.

After a fall like yesterday's, investors usually need a day or two to re-evaluate their holdings, their valuations, and their strategy moving forward. And that is likely what we are seeing take place today, considering that more important economic data was released this morning yet the markets have hardly flinched. The preliminary consumer sentiment numbers were released, and they were not good. The data showed a decline of five points, which is a reversal from the rise we saw last month and not what analysts had expected. On the other hand, the number of housing starts increased 6% in July.  

A few losers
Shares of Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG  ) are trading lower by 0.5% today. Just yesterday the company announced a recall for dog food and cat food that may have been contaminated with salmonella. While the resulting financial losses shouldn't be materially damaging to the company, the public image of the Eukanuba and Iams brands will certainly take a hit. We will likely see Procter & Gamble report lower revenue from this unit of its business, but in the big picture this shouldn't have too much of an effect on overall sales and profit. 

After trading flat yesterday, shares of Alcoa (NYSE: AA  ) are down 1.2% today after the stock was downgraded from "neutral" to "underperform" by an analyst at Merrill Lynch, who gave the company an $8 price tag. Additionally, Merrill reduced its 2014 earnings-per-share estimate to $0.20, which is well below the consensus estimate of $0.51. The analyst cited lower aluminum prices as one reason for the change. 

Shares of U.S. telecommunication giant Verizon (NYSE: VZ  ) are dropping as investors grow concerned about the future of the company. Verizon has bid $700 million to purchase Canadian telecom company Wind Mobile. Most analysts believe the only reason Verizon offered to buy the company was to gain access to its wireless spectrum. The Canadian government will also be holding a spectrum auction soon, and Verizon will certainly be interested -- but so will the top three Canadian wireless companies. That makes Verizon the outsider trying to bully not one, but three opponents on their own turf. This is uncharted territory for Verizon, and it may cause problems down the line. 

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