The markets have been walloped on Monday, led by the Dow Jones Industrial Average's (DJINDICES:^DJI) plunge of 180 points as of 2:30 p.m. EST. Despite strong economic data, the ongoing crisis in Ukraine has shaken investors today, taking every blue-chip member stock into the red. General Electric (NYSE:GE) has shed 1.5% to land among the Dow's biggest losers, while Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) joins health care's sliding stocks by dropping 0.7%. Let's catch up on what you need to know.
ISM data isn't enough
The Institute for Supply Management actually kicked the day off on a high note. The organization's purchasing managers index for February showed a gain of nearly 2 percentage points over January's reading. The PMI stood at 53.2% for February, with a healthy amount of space above the mark of 50 that represents neither expansion nor contraction. Strong signs showed up all over the PMI, as across the manufacturing sector order backlogs increased after contracting in January and new orders grew their rate of expansion by more than 3 percentage points. American manufacturing has rarely looked better in the years since the recession ended.
That hasn't been enough to shake off the global jitters over international instability, however. Stocks and markets all over the world fell in the wake of Russia's standoff with Ukraine following Kiev's political transition, as investors feared that a possible conflict in the country could ignite economic turmoil in Europe and threaten the ongoing economic recovery. It's not likely to be that disastrous, but Ukraine's pivotal role in keeping natural gas flowing to Europe could very well upset energy markets in the continent if the crisis worsens. The S&P 500 Volatility Index (VOLATILITYINDICES:^VIX), the market's "Fear index," has gained more than 14% today.
That has shaken stocks all over, and GE's been one of the big losers so far. This has come despite a report from Reuters that General Electric could be aiming to sell its fuel dispensing business, part of a unit that GE originally purchased for $3 billion four years ago. Reuters' sources note that the business could gain $500 million or more if a buyer can be found, and while the company's a huge player in the energy market, it -- like many conglomerates and diversified firms as of late -- is focusing in on its highest-growth, core businesses as strengths to keep its stock rise churning.
Pfizer's is down today following reports that the company is vying to create and sell a generic version of its one-time massive blockbuster drug Lipitor. Lipitor, once Pfizer's largest drug by sales and one of the world's best-selling drugs in its heyday, has fallen off for the company due to its patent expiration and generic competition. However, while Pfizer has already gotten past the brunt of Lipitor's fall, Goldman Sachs projects that Pfizer could gain up to $1 billion in sales one day from a generic version of the drug.