Year to date, the Dow Jones Industrial Average is up more than 6.84% as the bulls have rallied in 2013. Most will credit the fiscal cliff for the Dow’s impressive run this year. As many investors feared that the U.S. was going to fall off the cliff, they held tight to their cash and waited to see if the politicians in Washington would reach a deal. Since they did, a large amount of money began to be deployed, and the pent-up buying demand has pushed shares and, therefore, markets higher thus far.
But investors are again becoming wary of the markets, and buying pressure has slowed or even reversed with some stocks. There are two culprits at play: increased concerns about what the Federal Reserve plans to do with its quantitative-easing programs, and sequestration. The automatic government spending cuts, which were part of the fiscal cliff and just kicked down the road, will now go into effect on March 1 if the politicians can’t come to an agreement. Both of these events will have a major effect on the markets in the future, while some of their influence can already be seen.
Who has been affected
Bank of America Corp (NYSE:BAC) has dealt with a number of issues over the past year and looks as if it’s now stronger than ever. The stock gained more than 100% last year, and most observers would give a lot of the credit to CEO Brian Moynihan. But this past week, shares dropped by 4.9% after an SEC filing showed that Moynihan received $12.1 million in compensation in 2012, a 73% increase from 2011.
Sure, that’s a huge jump, but the company’s stock more than doubled last year. What more could investors want, and how much less should Moynihan have received? My Fool colleague John Maxfield recently asked whether Moynihan even deserved a raise at all. I say he certainly did, and I think the amount of the raise was fine, especially since the majority of it came in the form of stock options. But others clearly didn’t feel that way, causing the stock to fall into the red for 2013 this past week. Bank of America is now down 1.46% for the year.
Shares of Alcoa Inc (NYSE:AA), meanwhile, were cut down by 7.29% this past week, leaving the stock now down 0.46% year to date. These shares have been on a roller coaster lately. Two weeks ago they were higher by more than 4%. The cause for the recent decline was the same reason the company has struggled over the past year: The price of aluminum is dropping as stockpiles of the metal around the world continue to grow.