COMMENTARY | COLUMNISTS | GEORGE CHAMBERLIN

Dow average falls to lowest level since July amid Greek concern

The post-election selloff continued on Wall Street on Thursday. Concerns about the ability of the Obama administration to work with Congress on a plan to avoid the fiscal cliff weighed on investors.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 121.41 points to 12,811.32 and has lost more than 430 points since the election. The Nasdaq Composite Index dropped 41.71 points to 2,895.58, and the S&P 500 Stock Index was down 17.02 points to 1,377.51.

The markets moved lower after Standard & Poor's issued a report saying there is a 15 percent chance the United States will fall off the fiscal cliff and trigger a series of tax hikes and spending cuts. The report said failure to act will push the unemployment rate back above 9 percent by the end of 2013.

Gold rose $12 to $1,726 an ounce, and oil was up 65 cents to $85.09 a barrel.

Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) retreated 3.6 percent, extending its plunge since its September high to 23 percent. McDonald’s Corp. (NYSE: MCD), the world’s largest restaurant chain, dropped 2 percent after its monthly store sales declined for the first time in nine years. Prudential Financial Inc. (NYSE: PRU), the second-largest U.S. life insurer, decreased 4.8 percent after lowering its assumptions for equity and bond returns.

Equities extended Wednesday’s tumble as investors’ focus turned to the budget debate and Europe’s debt crisis following President Barack Obama’s re-election. Energy, financial and technology shares had the biggest declines in the S&P 500 in two days, falling at least 4.2 percent.

Euro-area finance ministers may not make a decision on unlocking funds for Greece until late November as they await a full report on the country’s compliance with the terms of its bailout, a European Union official said.

Kohl’s Corp. (NYSE: KSS) slipped 5.1 percent to $51.55. The department-store chain fell after narrowing its full-year profit forecast.

Monster Beverage Corp. (Nasdaq: MNST) slid 1.3 percent to $44.40 after posting third-quarter profit that trailed analysts’ estimates as sales growth slowed.

Autodesk Inc. (Nasdaq: ADSK) lost 2.7 percent to $30.73. The software maker was downgraded to "hold" from "buy" at Jefferies Group Inc. (NYSE: JEF) by equity analyst Ross Macmillan. The 12-month share-price estimate is $34.

Bank of America Corp. (NYSE: BAC) climbed 1.7 percent to $9.39. The stock could almost double in three years as capital improves, operating costs decline, and mortgage risks ease, according to Ed Najarian, banking analyst at ISI Group.

Najarian changed his rating to "buy" from "hold," saying in a note to investors Wednesday that Bank of America may be able to buy back common shares sooner and in greater amounts than he expected. The dividend, now 4 cents a share annually, could jump to an annual 20 cents next year and 40 cents by 2015, ISI wrote.

Qualcomm Inc. (Nasdaq: QCOM) jumped 4.4 percent to $60.67. The largest seller of mobile-phone semiconductors forecast sales and profit that exceeded analysts’ estimates, helped by robust consumer demand for smartphones.



Bloomberg News contributed to this report.



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