Concerns about the Federal Reserve's eventual end to its quantitative easing program changed from a relatively orderly sell-off yesterday to slightly more panicked movements today. By the close, the Dow Jones Industrials (DJINDICES:^DJI) plunged 354 points, the average's worst loss since November 2011. Not only did any single stock manage to avoid declining, but all 30 stocks posted declines of at least 1% or more, showing the depth of the negative sentiment that took over the market.
Given the way that investors have relied on the Fed throughout the market's long bullish run, it's not all that surprising to see the average pull back sharply on even the slightest hint that the Fed might stop doing what investors have been so happy to see for years. What is surprising, though, was that Disney (NYSE:DIS) was the biggest loser in the market, falling 3.7%. Despite the media giant's success with blockbuster films based on its Marvel acquisition, Disney has had to pay escalating amounts of money to secure the rights to broadcast sports on its ESPN channel, and a Wall Street analyst expects to see competition from other networks to try to capture the most popular sports leagues and sporting events. With expirations coming in its basketball and auto-racing contracts, ESPN could face challenges that would ripple throughout the media giant.
Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) also posted a sharp drop of about 3.25%. The stock's 25% gains since November left it poised for a pullback, but sellers are clearly ignoring Intel's prospects both in the mobile market and in its core PC business. With Intel finally gaining a place for its chips in a major mobile device, and with its recent moves to try to make PCs relevant again by emphasizing convenient form factors that blend full-power functionality and portability, investors shouldn't underestimate the chip giant's ability to regain its full strength in the semiconductor market.
Finally, although there was no lack of losing stocks in the broader market, gold mining companies took a huge hit in light of a plunge in the price of gold bullion that sent the yellow metal convincingly below the $1,300 per ounce level. Newmont Mining (NYSE:NEM), Barrick Gold (NYSE:ABX), and a host of other miners hit new 52-week lows, with Newmont falling 7%, and Barrick giving up 8%. If interest rates continue to rise, then the opportunity cost of owning gold will go up with them, making investors less prone to hold onto the metal, and potentially marking a long-term reversal in the more than decade-long bull market for gold.
Fool contributor Dan Caplinger has no position in any stocks mentioned. You can follow him on Twitter @DanCaplinger. The Motley Fool recommends Intel and Walt Disney. The Motley Fool owns shares of Intel and Walt Disney. 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.