Dow Continues Its Slide

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.

After its worst week in more than a year, investors hoped Wall Street would see things differently after the weekend, but that was not to be as the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) slid for the fourth consecutive session, giving up 71 points, or 0.5%, to finish just an inch above the 15,000 mark at 15,010. Investors' concerns about poor consumer demand were replaced by worries about the Fed cutting its bond-buying program as early as next month. As a result, treasury yields hit a two-year high as the 10-year T-note finished at 2.88%. The market will hear from the Fed this Wednesday when the minutes from its July 31 meeting are released, which should provide more insight on the central bank's thoughts about tapering the stimulus program.

The financial sector was the worst-performing today as rising interest rates may squeeze borrowing and the macroeconomic effects of the taper would likely threaten the banks more than most stocks. JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM  ) was hit the hardest, falling 2.7% as two new probes against the TBTF bank were revealed. First, the Department of Justice is investigating JPMorgan for potential manipulation of energy markets following the bank's settlement with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to pay $410 million. Earlier, JPMorgan was the subject of an SEC probe charging that it may have engaged in a form of bribery by hiring the children of powerful leaders of state-owned companies so it could win contracts with their businesses. Bank of America (NYSE: BAC  ) was also down 1.9% as a judge said that an esoteric law can be applied in a fraud case dealing with Countrywide before B of A acquired the mortgage lender.

Alcoa (NYSE: AA  ) was another poor performer, falling 2.2% after peer aluminum maker RUSAL posted a $208 million quarterly loss, worse than expected, and said it would cut output by 357,000 tons or 8.5%. Rusal also said it would delay production at one of its major projects. The report is further evidence of weakness in the market for the commodity metal, and shows that a comeback does not look imminent for Alcoa, especially after it suspended production at a plant in Brazil last week.

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