The Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) fell 113 points Wednesday. That means blue chips have lost ground in six of the past eight sessions. The Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GPSC) fell 8 points, and the Nasdaq composite index (^IXIC) dropped 15.
Walmart (WMT) quarterly earnings increased in line with expectations. But a key measure of sales edged lower, and most importantly, the company cut its profit outlook for the rest of the year. It says shoppers have been hurt by higher payroll taxes and gasoline prices.
Kohl's (KSS) net fell 4 percent and the company lowered its forecast.
But the department store chain Dillard's (DDS) topped expectations. Its net rose 18 percent.
Shares of Cisco Systems (CSCO) are set to slide and that could drag down the broader tech sector. The network equipment maker is slashing 4,000 jobs. That's about 5 percent of its worldwide workforce. The company also says earnings rose 18 percent in the second quarter, but it issued a disappointing revenue outlook for the current quarter. Cisco is considered a bellwether for the entire tech sector, because its gear is used in so many products.
The big-time, activist investors we often tell you about had to make regulatory filings this week on significant changes to their portfolios. Among the notable moves:
- Nelson Peltz has taken a big stake in DuPont (DD).
- George Soros bought J.C. Penney (JCP) and added to his stake in Apple (AAPL).
- Warren Buffett's firm bought Dish Network (DISH) and increased its stakes in Wells Fargo (WFC) and General Motors (GM), but sold Kraft (KRFT) and Mondelez (MDLZ).
- Daniel Loeb bought Walt Disney (DIS).
- David Einhorn sold his holdings in Microsoft (MSFT) and CBS (CBS).
And Microsoft is ready to roll out the first major update to its Windows 8 operating system -– and for the first time, it's free. Current users can get it beginning Oct. 18. It will include upgrades to the start screen and multitasking functions.