The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) held the line for most of today's session, but slid in late afternoon trading to finish down 35 points, or 0.3%. The fiscal cliff remained a big question mark for investors with just a week left before the Christmas holiday. If nothing is done, tax rates for all Americans will go up starting January 1.
Industrial production in November exceeded expectations of 0.3%, climbing 1.1%, in part, on the Sandy recovery, the strongest monthly growth since December 2010.
Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) dragged down the broad market today, falling 3.8% to its lowest level since February, and is now down 28% since its all-time high in September. Today's stumble came, in part, from UBS's decision to cut its price target on the tech titan from $780 to $700. Also pushing it down was news that the iPhone 5 supposedly received an underwhelming reception in its China debut today, though that seems to be because most of the sales are coming through retail partners and not at Apple stores. There are at least 400,000 pre-orders for the phone in China.
Also taking the Nasdaq down 0.7% was Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), which fell 5.1% after its fourth lockup period expiration. In the past, shares of the social network had actually gone up after some lockup expirations, but today's high volume indicates that some insiders may have been looking to get out after the 50% run-up in share price over the last two months.
The growth in industrial production at home and in China, whose PMI index showed better-than-expected expansion, was a boon for Alcoa (NYSE:AA), which rose 1.8% today. The aluminum-maker has struggled this year as the huge growth in Chinese construction has slowed. The company has been borderline profitable over the last four quarters, and shares are down 5% year to date.
Shares of GE (NYSE:GE), meanwhile, were unchanged, but the conglomerate rewarded investors nonetheless, raising its quarterly dividend 12%, to $0.19 a share, and announced a $10 billion buyback program through 2015.
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Jeremy Bowman owns shares of Apple. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple, Facebook, and General Electric Company and has the following options: long JAN 2014 $20.00 calls on Facebook. Motley Fool newsletter services recommend Apple and Facebook. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not 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.