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Markets Fall as Consumers Get Scared

By Matt Thalman - Apr 12, 2013 at 1:05PM

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Dow moves lower as investors take profits off the table.

This morning the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan preliminary reading on consumer confidence was released, and it indicated that the average American is becoming gloomier about the health of the economy. The reading dropped from 78.6 in March to 72.3 in April. Economists were expecting the index to hold steady at 78.5. Other measures have also slipped recently: The barometer of current economic conditions fell from 90.7 to 84.8, and the gauge of consumer expectations dropped from 70.8 to a 64.

While the consumer sentiment report usually garners the most attention, investors should view the reports as a whole in order to gain a comprehensive picture of the economy. Right now, that picture doesn't look so good, therefore the markets are trading lower today. As of 12:55 p.m. EDT the Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI -1.39%) is off by 25 points, or 0.17%. The S&P 500 is down 0.41%, while the NASDAQ has lost 0.34%.

Shares of JPMorgan Chase (JPM -0.47%) are flat, having recovered from earlier losses after the company announced earnings this morning. The company beat on earnings per share, but revenue decreased by 3% to $25.8 billion. Additionally, the company warned that net interest margins will continue to be pressured and will likely put strain on revenue in the future.

Fellow bank Wells Fargo (WFC -1.42%) also announced earnings this morning, and like JPMorgan, it indicated that revenue growth was an issue. Wells blamed its revenue shortfall on reduced mortgage loans during the quarter.

Shares of Bank of America (BAC -1.20%) are likely trading lower due to some of the comments made by Jamie Dimon and Wells Fargo's top management. All the big banks are essentially doing the same things and are exposed to the same risks. B of A was the best-performing Dow component in 2012, and it has risen more than 4% thus far in 2013. Its shares are down 0.8% today as investors lock in gains and flee the stock prior to its earnings release on April 17.

Shares of Cisco (CSCO -1.26%) are down 1.2% this afternoon. There's little news on the company, but the stock did flirt with its 52-week high yesterday and has been on quite the run over the past few trading sessions. After closing at $20.57 on Monday, the stock rose 5.44% to a closing price of $21.69 yesterday. Today's pullback is likely the result of traders taking profits before the weekend.

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Stocks Mentioned

Dow Jones Industrial Average (Price Return) Stock Quote
Dow Jones Industrial Average (Price Return)
^DJI
$32,201.25 (-1.39%) $-479.68
Bank of America Corporation Stock Quote
Bank of America Corporation
BAC
$35.56 (-1.20%) $0.43
JPMorgan Chase & Co. Stock Quote
JPMorgan Chase & Co.
JPM
$121.61 (-0.47%) $0.57
Cisco Systems, Inc. Stock Quote
Cisco Systems, Inc.
CSCO
$49.96 (-1.26%) $0.64
Wells Fargo & Company Stock Quote
Wells Fargo & Company
WFC
$43.09 (-1.42%) $0.62

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

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