The

Dow Jones Industrial Average

(

^DJI

) closed down 251.0 points (-2%) at 12,573. During the day, 757.9 million shares of the 30 Dow components have changed hands vs. an average daily trading volume of 700.4 million. The NYSE advances/declines ratio closed at 571 issues advancing vs. 2,470 declining with 86 unchanged.

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The Dow component that led the way higher today was

Merck

(NYSE:

MRK

), which sported a 24-cent gain (+0.6%) bringing the stock to $39.45. Volume for Merck ended the day at 16.4 million shares traded vs. an average daily trading volume of 14.3 million shares.

Merck has a market cap of $119.32 billion and is part of the

health care

sector and

drugs

industry. Shares are up 4% year to date as of Wednesday's close. The stock's dividend yield sits at 4.3%.

Merck & Co., Inc. provides various health solutions through its prescription medicines, vaccines, biologic therapies, animal health, and consumer care products. The company has a P/E ratio of 17.5, above the average drugs industry P/E ratio of 17.4 and below the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7.

TheStreet Ratings rates Merck as a

buy

. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures, solid stock price performance, impressive record of earnings per share growth and compelling growth in net income. Although the company may harbor some minor weaknesses, we feel they are unlikely to have a significant impact on results.

Holding the Dow back today was

International Business Machines

(NYSE:

IBM

), which lagged the broader Dow index with a $5.39 decline (-2.7%) bringing the stock to $193.39. This single loss lowered the Dow Jones Industrial Average by 40.79 points or roughly accounting for 16.3% of the Dow's overall loss. Volume for International Business Machines ended the day at 4.3 million shares traded vs. an average daily trading volume of four million shares.

International Business Machines has a market cap of $229.46 billion and is part of the

technology

sector and

computer hardware

industry. Shares are up 8.2% year to date as of Wednesday's close. The stock's dividend yield sits at 1.7%.

International Business Machines Corporation provides information technology (IT) products and services worldwide. The company operates in five segments: Global Technology Services, Global Business Services, Software, Systems and Technology, and Global Financing. The company has a P/E ratio of 14.9, equal to the average computer hardware industry P/E ratio and below the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7.

TheStreet Ratings rates International Business Machines as a

buy

. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, notable return on equity, solid stock price performance, growth in earnings per share and good cash flow from operations. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had generally poor debt management on most measures that we evaluated.

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