So much for today's good start across the market. After the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) started the day up big, the blue-chip index fell back to Earth this afternoon – and kept falling all the way until the closing bell. The Dow ended the day down 98 points, or 0.6%, with Disney (NYSE:DIS) falling by 1.2% to rank among the index's worst laggards.
Fresh concerns surrounding the West's response Russia's move into Ukraine turned off investors late in the day. In a speech with European leaders, U.S. President Barack Obama announced that America and the European Union will look to formulate tougher sanctions as a possibility against Russia's aggressive moves as of late. Europe's also aiming to rely less on Russia's natural resources, in particular natural gas.
However, the fresh round of sanction talk wiped out investor confidence about the international economy's intensifying recovery. Renewed hopes around sluggish China had buoyed the market earlier today, as economists and analysts grow more confident about Beijing's use of stimulus to kick-start a Chinese economy that's in danger of falling below targeted 7.5% annual growth.
Disney, Panera suffer the market's wrath
The market's downturn took it out around the services sector today as a few top stocks took a beating. Around the Dow, Disney took a dive despite confidence around shareholders over the firm's big buy of YouTube channel operator Maker Studios earlier this week. Disney's dishing out $500 million in the purchase, but Maker's shareholders could earn up to $450 million more based on the company's performance in the future under Disney. While it's a sizable purchase, Disney hasn't shied away from adding to its entertainment portfolio in the past, with additions such as Marvel and Lucasfilm beefing up Disney's presence with some of the most recognizable brands in the entertainment industry.
By buying Maker, Disney's striking out at the other end of the spectrum in searching for up-and-coming talent and viral video success, along with capturing the hundreds of millions of subscribers to Maker's channels. It's a cutting-edge plan designed to take advantage of online video in an age where traditional TV's begun to lag. In the long-term, Disney's deal looks like a winner. Don't let today's drop alter your confidence in entertainment's biggest behemoth.
Elsewhere, Panera Bread's (NASDAQ:PNRA) stock went stale today in falling nearly 8.5%, the victim of a downgrade from "buy" to "hold" courtesy of Wunderlich Securities. Still, Panera didn't announce any particularly tragic news during its investor meeting: The company maintained its first quarter and full-year guidance, aiming for earnings per share between $6.80 and $7.05 for 2014. While analysts might be concerned about the company's projection that moves to innovate with new technology investments could lead to a financial impact in future years -- a big reason the company withheld guidance beyond 2014 in its announcement today -- investors shouldn't fret about the downgrade. In the long term, Panera's investment should help the company's competitiveness in an industry locked in a tight battle for consumer dollars.
The market wasn't all bad today, however. DISH Network (NASDAQ:DISH) and DirecTV (NYSE:DTV.DL) jumped 6.3% and 5.7% respectively after reports emerged from Bloomberg that the two companies are thinking about merging. If true, it's an enormous shake-up in the satellite TV market from these two behemoths. DirecTV and DISH are the No. 1 and No. 2 satellite TV firms in the U.S., respectively, with near 34 million subscribers in all, per Bloomberg. While it doesn't sound as if a deal's anywhere near close yet, keep a close eye on how these reports shake out.