Dow Craters 206 Points, Led Lower by Telecom Sector

Nearly every member of the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) advanced yesterday. Today, all 30 components fell. Markets for weeks have been anxiously eying the comments that finally came today. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke revealed that the central bank will begin to taper its bond-buying program later this year if the economy continues to improve. More importantly, the Fed aims to completely end the $85 billion-per-month easing efforts entirely about a year from now. That didn't sit well with the Dow -- especially the telecom sector -- as the index lost 206 points, or 1.4%, to close at 15,112. 

Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ  ) , which was up nearly 2% earlier in the day, ended only slightly in the negative, posting losses less than 0.1%. Sadly, that made HP the Dow's top performer of the day. The resilience to broader declines comes as CEO Meg Whitman shakes up company executives in an effort to continue a turnaround that has sent shares up nearly 80% year to date. Shareholders are starting to trust her intuitions. 

Intel (NASDAQ: INTC  ) shares dropped 1.8% Wednesday, as recent bold moves from some of its closest competitors threaten the company's dominance. Advanced Micro Devices (NYSE: AMD  ) , which will use parts from ARM Holdings, laid out its plans for the server microprocessor market yesterday, and analysts are taking notice, touting the efforts. If successful, the project could take market share from Intel, which currently dominates the area. 

Lastly, shares of communications giants AT&T and Verizon Communications both slumped, falling 2.5% and 2.9%, respectively. The telecom sector was the worst-performing sector of the day across the markets. The decline makes particular sense when coupled with DISH Network's decision today to end its bidding war with Japan's SoftBank for Sprint Nextel. It now looks as though SoftBank should be able to acquire Sprint, which will mean more formidable competition for AT&T and Verizon.

When it comes to dominating markets, it doesn't get much better than Intel's position in the PC microprocessor arena. However, that market is maturing, and Intel finds itself in a precarious situation longer term if it doesn't find new avenues for growth. In this premium research report on Intel, a Motley Fool analyst runs through all of the key topics investors should understand about the chip giant. Click here now to learn more.


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