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What's Dogging the Dow Today?

By John Divine – Sep 23, 2013 at 6:43PM

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Movers and shakers behind the new-look index's 49-point drop.

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over daily movements, we do like to keep an eye on market changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

Today was just the third full day of trading since the Federal Reserve shocked financial pundits and continued its easy-money policies indefinitely last week. Although the Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI) instantly jumped about 150 points during last Wednesday's announcement, it only took two days for the average to lose all that and more. The 49-point, or 0.3%, slip today should send a clear enough message to investors: No one cares about what the Fed said last week. All eyes are on the future. The blue-chip index ended at 15,401 on Monday. 

UnitedHealth Group (UNH -0.74%) ended as the Dow's top performer, adding 1.8% today. Shares had shed more than 4% in their last four sessions before today's gains, a mini-sell-off caused in part due to Walgreen's (NYSE: WAG) decision to move its employee health-care plans to private exchanges. One Citigroup analyst, however, noted Monday that he didn't think the migration to private exchanges would necessarily be a negative for UnitedHealth shareholders, a sentiment that caused some on Wall Street to reexamine their pessimism. 

The Dow's second-best performer today was General Electric (GE -1.31%), a company worth nearly $250 billion. GE is easily written off as a corporate behemoth incapable of providing meaningful upside to potential investors, if only because of its fearsome girth. Not only did Barron's have something different to say about the industrial giant in its weekend edition, but GE, too, had something to say in response. GE said, in essence, on Monday: "We just inked a deal to supply gas turbines to Algeria. In return Algeria will supply us with $2.7 billion."

The stock ended with 1.1% gains today.

On the less rosy side of the Dow, JPMorgan Chase (JPM -1.56%) lost 2.5% as word broke that the bank will yet again be sued. According to Reuters, the Justice Department is gearing up to file suit with the bank over mortgage bonds -- backed by toxic debt -- JPMorgan sold between 2005 and 2007. 

The stock market isn't directly analogous to professional sports, but if it were, Goldman Sachs (GS -1.03%) would've been the naive rookie who just made the team. You can guess what happened next: The naïve newbie received an excruciatingly painful wedgie.

Shares in the bank lost 2.7% today, which muddied a historic first day of Goldman's inclusion in the Dow. All signs point to Citigroup as the organizer of Goldman's initiation ceremony -- reports say that Citi's business has suffered in recent months as trading volume cooled down and sparked fears on Wall Street that less active markets could hit brokers like Goldman as well. 

Fool contributor John Divine has no position in any stocks mentioned. You can follow him on Twitter @divinebizkid and on Motley Fool CAPS @TMFDivine.

The Motley Fool recommends Goldman Sachs and UnitedHealth Group. It owns shares of Citigroup, General Electric, and JPMorgan Chase. 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.

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Stocks Mentioned

Dow Jones Industrial Average (Price Return) Stock Quote
Dow Jones Industrial Average (Price Return)
^DJI
$29,225.61 (%)
The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. Stock Quote
The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc.
GS
$293.05 (-1.03%) $-3.06
JPMorgan Chase & Co. Stock Quote
JPMorgan Chase & Co.
JPM
$104.50 (-1.56%) $-1.66
General Electric Company Stock Quote
General Electric Company
GE
$61.91 (-1.31%) $0.82
UnitedHealth Group Incorporated Stock Quote
UnitedHealth Group Incorporated
UNH
$505.04 (-0.74%) $-3.79

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

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