This morning investors were focusing their attention on the Japanese markets and the Bank of Japan's decision not to provide an enormous amount of government stimulus to help stabilize the markets. That caused the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) to fall as much as 150 points earlier this morning, but the blue-chip index has since recovered and is only down 25 points, or 0.16%, as of 12:55 p.m. EDT. The S&P 500 is down 0.41%, while the Nasdaq is lower by 0.39%.
The brief decline this morning is yet another example of how investors have come to expect government stimulation. When it doesn't arrive as expected, the markets suffer. This relationship with government intervention may turn ugly when the Fed finally decides to cut off its quantitative-easing programs. Individual investors should begin preparing themselves for some rough days or weeks ahead.
A few Dow dunces
Shares of Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) are trading lower by 1.2%. The likely cause for today's decline is Sony's announcement that its PlayStation 4 will hit the market at $399, a full $100 cheaper than Microsoft's Xbox One. If the Xbox One were only $50 more expensive and offered a compelling list of advantages over the PlayStation 4, many consumers would be torn between the two consoles. However, the whopping hundred-buck difference makes the choice a no-brainer for casual gamers.
Alcoa (NYSE:AA) is down by 1.4% today. Given little news pertaining to the company, the reason for today's decline is unknown. But the company has struggled over the past few years as the price of aluminum has fallen, and one of my colleagues believes the company may soon be booted from the Dow.
Shares of both of the Dow's banks, Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) and JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM), have slipped 0.7% due to the issues in Japan. My colleague Jessica Alling noted this morning that over the past few weeks, when the Asian markets struggle, the big U.S. banks take a hit, which is what's happening today. But Bank of America only receives about 4% of its revenue from Asia, while 6% of JPMorgan's revenue comes from the region. Those markets shouldn't hurt the banks substantially, so these pullbacks are likely overreactions.
Fool contributor Matt Thalman owns shares of Bank of America, Microsoft, and JPMorgan Chase. The Motley Fool owns shares of Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, and Microsoft. Check back Monday thru Friday as Matt explains what caused the Dow's winners and losers of the day, and every Saturday for a weekly recap. Follow Matt on Twitter @mthalman5513. 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.