Dow Takes 119-Point Hit; Melco Crown Entertainment Jumps on Japan’s Gambling Plans

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) fell sharply today, posting its largest intraday decline in more than a month. Curiously enough, today's slump comes after two straight days of great news for the real estate market. New home sales in May soared, rocketing nearly 19% higher, to finish at an annualized rate of 504,000, according to the Commerce Department. Yesterday also saw existing home sales in May advance. Alas, these blowout numbers weren't enough for Wall Street, and the Dow fell 119 points, or 0.7%, to end at 16,818.

Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT  ) was one of just four Dow components to finish with gains on Tuesday, tacking on a meager 0.2%. Coverage of Wal-Mart stock was just initiated at Morgan Stanley; the investment bank gave shares an "overweight" rating and a price target of $87 a share. Morgan Stanley cited food price inflation and popularity with lower-end customers in its bullish call. Wal-Mart, though its subsidiary, Sam's Club, is also getting into the online travel booking business, it announced today. Sam's Club Travel will allow members to book flights, hotels, car rentals, cruise lines, and more, either in packages or a la carte. Watch out, Priceline!

Five Below (NASDAQ: FIVE  ) might also want to keep an eye out for Wal-Mart. Shares of the unique retailer, which carries teen and pre-teen clothing and accessories retailing for $5 or less, lost 4.4% today. Although Five Below's model has proven itself a success thus far -- annual sales have surged from $125 million in the 2010 fiscal year to $535 million in the 2014 fiscal year -- its rapid growth may well be its biggest risk. My colleague Dan Moskowitz cautions investors that Five Below's co-founders have already run one company into the ground with the "growth at any cost" strategy.

Melco has several properties in China's Macau, including Studio City. Source: Melco Crown

Melco Crown Entertainment (NASDAQ: MPEL  ) , on the other hand, along with others in the gaming industry, got word today that a huge new market may be offered to them on a silver spoon. Melco Crown shares added 2.1% after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he and his ruling party would attempt to legalize gambling in Japan, a strategy he hopes will bolster the country's economy and increase tourism before the Tokyo Olympics in 2020. If the new initiative successfully makes its way through parliament, Melco Crown and other casino operators will likely jump at the opportunity to increase their global presence.

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