For the second day in a row, the Dow Jones Industrial Average posted modest gains while investors again fled the market's most valuable stock. When it was all said and done, the blue chips finished up 28 points, or 0.2%.

The highly anticipated December retail sales report came out today, showing a 0.5% increase over November's figure and a 5.5% jump from the previous year. While the sequential increase beat expectations of just 0.2%, the market widely ignored the report as many individual stocks have already reported downbeat holiday sales and macroeconomic issues such as the debt ceiling also have investors feeling jittery. Factoring out autos, retail sales grew just 0.3%. The December producer price index also dropped 0.2%, showing that inflation is still far from a concern despite the Fed's loose monetary policy.

Apple shares fell another 3.2% as the market continued to digest reports that it halved orders for iPhone parts this quarter. Suppliers for the smartphone such as TTM Technologies and Multi-Fineline Electronix fell sharply as well, as the latter slashed its guidance for the first half of 2013. Apple hit an 11-month low on the day, finishing under $500 for the first time in nearly a year.


Fellow tech darling Facebook was also getting beaten with the ugly stick today, falling 2.7% in response to the previously hyped "mystery event." The surprise, it turned out, was a new search product that allows users to look through friends' posts for information such as restaurant recommendations or cold remedies. While the search tool only exists within the network, it does bring Facebook closer to competing directly with Google in its rival's specialty. Shares of Yelp , perhaps the closest potential victim to the new feature, fell 6.2%.

There was relatively little action among Dow components today, but Wal-Mart announced a new initiative to hire at least 100,000 veterans and purchase an additional $50 billion in an American-made products over the next decade. The retailer called it an effort to reduce unemployment and boost economic growth in its core market. Some critics responded that the company could achieve the same goal by paying its current employees more. The stock finished the day up 1%.

After another down day for Apple, some investors are saying it's time to throw in the towel. Find out what our top tech analyst in our new premium research report all about the iPhone maker. This report takes a deep dive into the company, presenting you with information you need to know about the company's future opportunities and risks. As a free bonus, it also comes with a year's worth of free updates so you'll stay up to date on your investment. Get started with this invaluable new package right now. All you have to do is click right here.

The article Dow Looks Hopeful for Earnings originally appeared on Fool.com.

Jeremy Bowman owns shares of Apple. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Apple and Facebook. 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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