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Rough start to 2017 for Dow index plagued by downgrades

Several companies in the Dow Jones industrial average have had a rough start to the new year.

Nearly one-fifth of the index has been downgraded since Jan 3., including Coca-Cola, Procter & Gamble, Goldman Sachs, Exxon Mobil, McDonald's and Disney.

Earlier this month, Goldman Sachs downgraded staples brands Coca-Cola and Procter & Gamble from neutral to sell ratings in two reports, citing a stronger U.S. dollar for one and the price-earnings ratio for the other. Shares of both fell about 1 percent on the day the report came out.

Exxon was downgraded to market perform from outperform at Wells Fargo, citing a closed window for an acquisition. McDonald's was downgraded on slowing sales, while Disney was lowered by Pivotal from hold to sell to account for changes in earnings expectations and changing political risks.

And Citi downgraded Goldman to sell from neutral in a valuation call after the recent runup for the financials group.

Despite the downgrades this month, the Dow has come within a third of a point of hitting the psychological mark of 20,000. Thursday the index closed down 63 points at 19,891, with Goldman contributing the most losses.