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Apple and the Fiscal Cliff

Why 'Fiscal Cliff' May Be Bigger Threat Than You Think
Colin Anderson | Photographer's Choice | Getty Images

It's the newest worry on Wall Street: fiscal cliff anxiety.

Some are selling on fears of higher capital gains tax. (Read more: Stocks Lower as 'Fiscal Cliff' Worries Linger)

Some are taking high-beta risk stocks down either to protect gains or to dodge headline risks associated with the fiscal cliff.

The Dow, the Nasdaq, and the Russell 2000 have broken below their 200-day moving averages, causing some to review their risk management strategies.

Some of this is irrational, of course.

(Read more: Why 'Rise Above'? CNBC's Call for Action on the Fiscal Cliff)

Most believe that the tax on capital gains will move from 15 percent to 20 or 23 percent, and only for those making more than $250,000, as President Obama has signaled. That is unlikely to cause chaos. If a "Buffett Rule" was adopted, the rate might rise to 30 percent for millionaires, a more serious hit. How much it goes to is clearly important, but also when.

(Read more: Poll: What's the Best Way to Reform Social Security?)

Regardless: fiscal cliff anxiety is already affecting some company decisions. This morning Leggett & Platt announced they were paying a dividend of $0.29 in the fourth quarter, but would be paying it on December 10 instead of January. In a statement, the company said, "The company has typically paid its fourth quarter dividend in January. However, given the significant pending increase of the federal tax rate on dividend income in 2013, the company opted to accelerate payment into December."

Apple: broken stock. There's no doubt that the selling in the last couple days is partly related to capital gains tax anxiety. Regardless: AAPL was already broken before yesterday. It's been breaking down since they announced iPhone 5 on September 21. The "Apple has lost its shine" story is already old, even though iPhone 5 sales have been strong. Even a month ago, there were guys talking about selling puts (a bullish call) and happy to buy lower. A lot of people are getting stopped out.

—By CNBC's Bob Pisani

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