There's a simple rule on Wall Street: When investors get nervous, stocks fall. That rule held true today, as a brief jump after fairly encouraging data on the employment situation gave way to concerns about the election, the fiscal cliff, the global economy, and a host of other company-specific issues that pose worrisome problems for stocks. Despite jumping more than 50 points shortly after the open, the Dow Jones Industrials (DJINDICES:^DJI) quickly gave up those gains, and a late-day sell-off brought the average's losses to almost 140 points. Broader markets also lost roughly 1%.
A few Dow components managed to avoid the downdraft. Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) finished up more than 1%, after CFO Bruce Thompson told audiences at an investor conference that the bank may already exceed the Financial Stability Board's capital requirements. Combined with news that B of A is finally catching up with rival JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM) and other peers in giving fee automatic waivers to customers hit by Hurricane Sandy, the bank appears to be getting smarter and healthier.
Disney (NYSE:DIS) gained slightly, as investors continue to digest news of its $4 billion purchase of Star Wars creator Lucasfilm. As Fool contributor Caroline Bennett detailed last night, Disney has a stellar track record of acquisitions and, with plenty of untapped potential left in the Star Wars franchise, Lucasfilm is unlikely to break Disney's streak of success.
Finally, Merck (NYSE:MRK) posted a small gain. The company agreed to settle concerning a lawsuit filed by Missouri customers of pain relief drug Vioxx, which Merck pulled off the market, after reports of increased risk of heart attack and stroke. The court must approve the settlement but, once done, it'll put another painful episode for Merck in the history books.