A number of disappointing economic reports hit investors this morning, and combined with the uncertainty of the Federal Reserve meeting, the markets were doomed to fall. And that is precisely what they did: The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) ended the day down 138 points, or 0.94%, while the S&P 500 lost slightly less as it fell 0.92% and the Nasdaq ended the session as the index winner, after losing only 0.89%.
The ADP jobs reports started it all off. It indicated that only 119,000 jobs were created in April, while economists expected 150,000. Next, investors were hit with the ISM Purchasing Managers Index, which attempts to track whether the economy is growing or contracting. With 50 representing no growth or contraction, April's reading came in at 50.7%, after a 51.3% in March. Lastly, while the Fed didn't change any policies, it didn't really give investors the feeling the economy was moving along the road to recovery either, which is just the same as saying things are bad.
But enough with that -- let's get to some of the Dow's big losers today.
A few Dow losers
Shares of Cisco (NASDAQ:CSCO) fell 2.58% today, but the stock was still only the third worst-performing Dow component of the day. The decline came after competitor Arista Networks announced it has manufactured a data switch that can move outputs at up to 100 gigabits per second. That sort of speed is dramatically higher than what was found on the market just a year ago, and the new switches are expected to cost about a tenth of what similar products sell for today. The increased competition may really take a bite out of Cisco's revenue and earnings in the future.
Both of the Dow's big banks also fell hard this afternoon. Shares of JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM) dropped 2.04% while Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) slid 1.38%. The likely cause for the decline is a report from the Financial Times that indicates that the Federal Reserve may be thinking of raising the capital reserves on all banks even higher than the already-lofty Basel III requirements. The move would further weaken the banks' ability to turn profits, but make the economy overall much safer since it would be even more unlikely that the banks would fail due to loan losses. But most investors want profits today, not safety tomorrow, so shares are declining on the news.
The second-worst Dow performer today was Merck, as shares moved lower by 2.79%. To finds out why, click here.
And lastly, the worst Dow component of the day was Verizon (NYSE:VZ). The wireless service provider saw shares move lower by 2.80% today on unusually high volume. On a typical day, about 13.8 million shares trade hands, but today more than 23.8 million shares changed owners. Furthermore, Verizon's closest competitor, AT&T rose in value today as shares ended the day up 0.27%. Shares of Verizon are up more than 21% year to date, and with talk that the company may buy out Vodafone for more than $100 billion, large institutional investors may have started dumping the stock today. Taking profits now before the company is overwhelmed with debt is not a terrible idea.
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