Stocks have fallen off a cliff today after two large conglomerates released earnings that spooked the market. The weak earnings reports stoked fears that the global economy is still in a fragile state and earnings growth will be subdued in the near term. As of 3:30 p.m. EDT, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) is down 1.66%, and the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) is down 1.3%.
E.l. du Pont de Nemours (NYSE:DD), better known as DuPont, is the biggest loser on the Dow today, falling 9.6%. The company reported a 9.8% decline in net sales to $7.4 billion, and earnings fell to $0.44 per share from $0.69 per share a year ago. There's really no way to sugarcoat the numbers; it was simply a terrible quarter. What's worse is that the company's full-year guidance was reduced to $3.25 to $3.30 per share from a previous range of $4.20 to $4.40, and it will cut employment by 1,500 jobs.
3M (NYSE:MMM) has dropped 4% after issuing a slight revenue miss and disappointing guidance for the fourth quarter. The company said it expects full-year profit to be $6.27 to $6.35 per share, down from previous guidance of $6.35 to $6.50. 3M has been hit hard by a strong dollar, which makes revenue and profits overseas look lower. Because the company generates 70% of sales overseas, the impact on earnings is material.
Energy stocks are also moving dramatically lower today. Chevron (NYSE:CVX) has fallen 2.9%, and Exxon Mobil (NYSE:XOM) has fallen 2% because oil took another big hit today. The commodity fell below $86 per barrel for a short time, and as I write it's down 2.3% for the day. The weak projections for the economy are helping to drive the commodity south -- which, ironically, will help the consumer going forward.