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For the next few days at least, markets will continue to obsess over Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke's every word and intimation, as he and the Federal Open Market Committee discuss the future of the central bank's monetary policy. As for today, Wall Street seemed sufficiently impressed with bullish manufacturing data in the Northeast and confidence from U.S. homebuilders, which reached a multiyear high. That was enough to drive the S&P 500 Index (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC ) 12 points, or 0.8%, higher, as it closed at 1,639. But despite the broad gains, today's three laggards managed to fall -- big-time.
Frontier Communications (NASDAQ: FTR ) leads the list today with losses of 3.3%. The stock had a couple of things not going its way, not least of which was the telecom sector itself -- the only market area (out of 10) to end in the red today. At current levels, Frontier shares are also paying a nearly 10% annual dividend, which may sound unsustainable. If it sounds unsustainable, that's because it may be -- the company paid out 250% of its profits to shareholders in the last 12 months. Nothing can go on like that forever!
Another disproportionate decliner in the index was Gilead Sciences (NASDAQ: GILD ) , which stumbled 2.3%. As a biotech focused on preventing deadly diseases across the globe, its stock has amply rewarded investors the last few years -- shares have doubled in the last year alone, and have nearly tripled in the last three. However, with an earnings multiple nearing 30, some are wondering whether the company's current valuation is justified.
United States Steel (NYSE: X ) finds itself as the last company on this list, with shares having slipped 2.3% on Monday. Earlier this month, the stock found itself as one of the S&P 500's 5 Most Hated Stocks, which basically just means Wall Street is shorting the stock like crazy. Shares have struggled mightily year to date, falling more than 25% as investors cope with the declining revenues and earnings seen in the last fiscal year.