The fiscal cliff continues to approach, and after a long period of complacency, it appears that mainstream America is finally starting to pay attention. With the latest reading on consumer confidence posting a substantial drop in December, the nervousness about what will happen as the likelihood of a pre-Dec. 31 deal declines is becoming more palpable. Moreover, given that the survey's cutoff date was Dec. 13, even more pessimism could be coming down the road. Even a 4.4% rise in new home sales in November wasn't able to cushion the blow as the Dow Jones Industrials (DJINDICES:^DJI) fell 63 points by 10:45 a.m. EDT. Only a couple of the Dow's 30 stocks managed to rise.

Chevron (NYSE:CVX) fell about a third of a percent despite announcing that it had made some new discoveries of natural gas off the western coast of Australia. With two new wells striking gas, Chevron has had 19 gas discoveries in Australia over the past three and a half years. The discoveries highlight the emerging boom in natural gas around the world, and with Chevron having bought a stake in a proposed liquefied natural gas plant in British Columbia earlier this week from Encana (NYSE:ECA) and EOG Resources, it's obvious that the oil and gas giant is aiming to be as big a part of the trend as possible.

Home Depot (NYSE:HD) sank about 0.6%. As one of the top-performing Dow stocks in 2012, the home-improvement retailer got in early on the trend toward an improving housing market, and with new home sales continuing to rise, it seems as though 2013 could be just as lucrative for Home Depot. Still, falling consumer confidence could put a stop to the housing recovery, which likely has investors nervous.

Finally, IBM (NYSE:IBM) rose about 0.1%. A financial analyst in Australia was charged with insider trading in connection with IBM's acquisition of analytics software provider SPSS in 2009. The charges don't implicate IBM, but rather involve information learned from corporate lawyers involved in the deal. 

Fool contributor Dan Caplinger has no positions in the stocks mentioned above. You can follow him on Twitter @DanCaplinger. The Motley Fool owns shares of IBM. Motley Fool newsletter services recommend Chevron, Home Depot, and IBM. 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.