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After getting off to a bad start, the bulls almost managed to pull out a last-hour gain from the stock market. But, despite its best efforts and a brief foray into positive territory, the Dow Jones Industrials (INDEX: ^DJI ) closed with about a 20 point loss. Major market benchmarks followed the Dow lower.
Tech stocks felt the pain today, with three of the four Dow stocks that fell 1% or more today coming from the sector. Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ ) led the way down, falling more than 2%, while Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT ) was down 1.3%, and Intel (Nasdaq: INTC ) dropped 1.4%.
It's easy to spot a common theme there. All three companies are formerly dominant players in their respective fields, whether you're talking about computer peripherals, software, or microprocessors. Each has seen a major challenge to that dominance, but HP has fallen the furthest in light of the commoditized nature of tech hardware. By contrast, Intel still commands a huge part of the far-from-dead PC market, and Microsoft's operating system and office productivity softwa re won't disappear anytime soon. But all three stocks are looking for some sort of catalyst to re-energize their business models and, so far, that catalyst hasn't emerged.
On the other side of the spectrum, Pfizer (NYSE: PFE ) topped the list of gainers by climbing almost 1%. Continuing its gains from Friday, the stock set a new five-year high in follow-through buying from positive news that a European regulatory advisory board would recommend approval of its Eliquis blood-clot medication, on which it partners with Bristol-Myers Squibb. In its ongoing efforts to replace blockbuster drugs going off-patent, every new compound can help Pfizer's long-term prospects.
Turning losses into wins
It's hard to deal with a losing market, but the best stocks find ways out of their jams and turn challenges into profits. That can be hard for big companies, though. Microsoft, for instance, has struggled for years to turn its slow-moving ship but, even with decent gains recently, many investors still aren't happy with the software giant. Read all about the Pacific Northwest behemoth's trials and tribulations in the Fool's premium report on Microsoft, which includes a year's worth of updates, as the company strives to recover more of its lost glory. Click here and get in the know today.