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What-to-watch list keeps growing longer

What-to-watch list keeps growing longer

So far this year, Wall Street has undergone more twists and turns than Season 4 of Homeland. Just when investors think it’s safe to wade back into the stock market — BOOM — the market bombs out and portfolios end up suffering the collateral damage. Tuesday’s wild ride sent a message that complacent investors need to focus their minds, eyes and ears on the market, not unlike Homeland’s terrorist-fighting CIA agent Carrie Mathison. Counterattacks from bears have Wall Street bulls on the defensive. To say the stock market took investors on a scary ride Tuesday would be an understatement.Wall-Street

The day started off well, with the Dow rising 282 points, powered by optimism surrounding Alcoa’s earnings beat late Monday and an analyst upgrade of Apple. But then the bears launched their sneak attack, pushing the Dow 143 points into the red (the Dow closed down 27 points at 17,614) amid a swoon in shares of home builder KB Home and rumors that the European Central Bank’s hoped-for launch of a bond-buying program was running into hitches. And it looks like the wild ride will continue Wednesday. In premarket trading the Dow was down 240 points, or 1.4% to 17,296. The blue-chip index has been upended by weak bank earnings and retail sales.

Investors have more minefields to dodge Wednesday. JPMorgan and Wells Fargo report earnings. A sizable miss by JPMorgan is a big reason the Dow is on the defensive. Retail sales data for the key December holiday selling season also weighed on investor sentiment after falling 0.9%, well below the 0.1% drop expected. How oil trades today is also key. Add copper to the list of things to worry about. The metal is in free fall today, suffering its biggest one-day tumble since 2011, according to Barclays.

The list of worries now includes: plunging oil prices; copper in free fall; eurozone deflation fears; global growth woes; wild stock market swings; worries about the health of the U.S. economy as the rest of the world slows; angst over corporate earnings in the fourth-quarter reporting season; and not to mention worries over coming rate hikes from the Federal Reserve.

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