For the fourth day in a row, the stock market traded at least part of the day above where it had closed the previous session. And, for the fourth day in a row, the market gave up those gains to finish lower. The Dow Jones Industrials (DJINDICES:^DJI) finished today's trading down 29 points, extending its losses for the week to almost 275 points, and raising concerns that the average could be headed for a full-blown correction in light of tepid economic news and continuing obstacles on tax policy and global macroeconomic growth.
A big chunk of those losses are attributable to Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT), which plunged 3.6% today. The retailer's third-quarter numbers showed better-than-expected earnings, but were slightly light on revenue, with same-store sales growth coming in at just 1.5%. With Target's (NYSE:TGT) stock moving in the opposite direction after beating on both the top and bottom line, Wal-Mart clearly has plenty of competition as it moves into the always-critical holiday season.
Telecom stocks were also among the biggest decliners in the Dow, with Verizon (NYSE:VZ) falling 1.3%, and AT&T (NYSE:T) off about 1%. With both companies facing significant losses as a result of outages after Hurricane Sandy hit, investors will be looking to their earnings next quarter to see the full impact of the storm. Moreover, concerns about how dividend-tax provisions may change as a result of fiscal cliff negotiations are also likely weighing on the stocks, given their high yields.
Finally, beyond the Dow, AK Steel (NYSE:AKS) plunged nearly 10%, when it priced a secondary stock offering. Yet, with 22 million shares offered at $4 per share, the stock's closing price of $3.63 offers a huge discount to what new investors will have to pay. After an earnings warning earlier this week, though, investors are clearly reluctant to get into the steel stock at this point.