Poor macro data from the housing market made January's hot start take a pause, while three Dow components reported results. One went on to be the index's best performer of the day and another the worst.

But before we jump into the day's events, let's see how the three largest indices fared.

Index

Gain / Loss

Gain / Loss %

Ending Value

Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI) (22.33) (0.18%) 12,734.63
Nasdaq (INDEX: ^IXIC) (13.03) (0.46%) 2,805.28
S&P 500 (7.62) (0.57%) 1,318.43

The overall trend was down for the day, and all three indices faded as the trading session wore on. The Nasdaq snapped a two-day winning streak, while the S&P 500's half-percent decline gave it the worst performance of the day.

The big story was the poor performance of December new-home sales and a reminder that the housing market is far from fixed. Sales declined in 2011 to 302,000 new home sales, putting it roughly 6% lower than last year. In fact, it was the housing market's worst performance since 1963.

The Dow earnings storm continues, with Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT), 3M (NYSE: MMM), and AT&T (NYSE: T) all reporting. Caterpillar did its best to save the index, with a solid quarter and strong guidance pushing shares up 2.1% today. 3M also managed to be one of six Dow components to close with a gain, topping analyst estimates by adding 1.3% to its shares. AT&T, on the other hand, got crushed after reporting a $6.7 billion loss, mostly because of its cancelled merger with T-Mobile. They always said breaking up was hard to do!

Stay tuned to the Fool for more analysis on recent earnings and general market movements throughout the day.

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David Williamson owns shares of 3M, but he holds no other position in any company mentioned. Check out his holdings and a short bio. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of and creating a diagonal call position in 3M. 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.