Why Goldman Sachs and Pfizer Held Back the Dow Tuesday

The Dow managed to break its losing streak, but a 10-point rise didn't inspire much bullishness.

Apr 8, 2014 at 9:03PM

On Tuesday, the Dow Jones Industrials (DJINDICES:^DJI) broke its losing streak, although its gain of just 10 points did little to erase the more than 325 points the Dow had lost on Friday and Monday. Even though broader market measures posted more substantial gains today, the Dow had to overcome negative influences from Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) and Pfizer (NYSE:PFE), both of which dropped more than 1% Tuesday.


Goldman Sachs was just one of several big U.S. banks that face the specter of tougher regulation, with various regulators looking to impose a higher 5% minimum capital requirement on Goldman and seven other lenders. Proponents argue that having systemically important institutions maintain higher levels of capital could help prevent a future financial crisis. But the cost of the new requirement is less leverage for Goldman Sachs, and that in turn could hurt its ability to produce stronger profit growth in the future. The move is just the latest in the series of challenges that Goldman Sachs will have to overcome in order to catch up to its pre-crisis growth prospects, and in particular, Goldman's unique reputation as a Wall Street institution leaves it vulnerable to onerous restrictions that will nevertheless command popular appeal among those who blame the institution for the financial crisis. Given the stock's high price, Goldman also has a big influence on the Dow Jones Industrial Average, and that could make it harder for the Dow to rebound.

Pfizer's decline came on the heels of an even larger drop Monday, but today, the drug giant had to deal with a study that found that customers who used Viagra had a greater likelihood of developing melanoma. The study, which was published in a prestigious medical journal, found no link between Viagra and other types of skin cancer, and researchers emphasized that this early stage study is far from conclusive on the issue. Yet the researchers tried to control for different factors, including sun exposure and family history, and nevertheless found an 84% greater likelihood of developing melanoma. It's far too early to assess potential legal liability even if the study is confirmed, but bad news for one of Pfizer's most famous drugs reflects negatively on the company in many people's eyes.

Looking forward, the Dow Jones Industrials will have to keep getting good news in order to rebuild what had looked like momentum for a record-setting run. Unless that happens soon, some short-term traders will see the failure of the Dow Jones Industrials to reach new all-time highs as a sign of market weakness. That could make the Dow's recent pullback look tiny by comparison.

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Dan Caplinger has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Goldman Sachs. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't 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.

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