Stumbling below 15,000 as it fell for three straight days for the first time this year, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) started the day higher, only to end up posting triple-digit losses. Markets remain tense ahead of data tomorrow on initial jobless claims and retail sales, which in turn will set the tone for next week's Federal Open Market Committee meeting. The central bank is expected to address its $85 billion per month bond-buying program, and the fear that the Fed will scale back easing efforts sent the Dow cratering 126 points, or 0.8%, to close at 14,995.
Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) was the lone shining star in the index today, jumping 2.8% after CEO Meg Whitman said on CNBC that the technology company was moving along smoothly with its five-year recovery plan. The former California gubernatorial candidate put things politically, saying the company had "a long way to go," but that HP was actually progressing more quickly than expected.
After stumbling yesterday on Sony's PlayStation 4 release, Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) shares rebounded slightly, adding 0.5%. Not only does the PS4 undercut Microsoft's Xbox One by $100, ($399 vs. $499), but the console is also more amenable to gamers who play resold, used games. Meanwhile, critical reviews of Apple's new iOS could create an opportunity for Microsoft's future mobile ventures.
IBM (NYSE:IBM) shed 1.4% today, as the company starts to implement cutbacks in its workforce. After missing earnings estimates in the first quarter this year for the first time in eight years, IBM announced sweeping restructuring efforts to go into effect across the globe. The move, which requires the company pay severance to an as-yet unknown number of laid-off employees, will cost IBM around $1 billion.
Of the 26 Dow stocks in the red Wednesday, American Express (NYSE:AXP) shares fell 2.4%, making AmEx the Dow's worst performer for a second straight day. Investors are cashing out of the stock as litigation risk in the industry is suddenly rising, with a Tennessee retailer's lawsuit against American Express rival Visa yesterday seeking damages for a breach of security in 2010. Card companies may be in for more and more cases like these as information security remains in the national spotlight.
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