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Unable to continue a four-day rally that had sent it to all-time closing highs yesterday, the S&P 500 Index (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC ) ended its hot streak Tuesday, falling 3 points, or 0.2%, to close at 1,692. House Speaker John Boehner elicited a nearly audible sigh from markets today as he reminded Washington and, indeed, the world, that another nightmarish debt-ceiling/spending-cut debate lies ahead, the beginning stages of which may begin as early as next month. Two years ago, Washington's ineptitude on this very issue caused the ratings agency Standard & Poor's to downgrade America's credit rating.
Chipmaker Advanced Micro Devices (NASDAQ: AMD ) registered as one of the index's worst performers for a third straight day, losing 6.2% Tuesday. AMD shares just can't seem to catch a break, with three consecutive days of losses taken straight from the negatives of a financial horror film: First AMD plummeted 13%, and then lost another 3%, only to cap it all off with today's abysmal showing. Not much has changed materially since the company underwhelmed on its quarterly report, sparking several analyst downgrades and a sharp sell-off. Still boasting 52% gains on the year, some investors are taking the downturn as a sign that the run's over.
Tobacco giant Lorillard (UNKNOWN: LO.DL ) also ended toward the bottom of the index today, losing 4.5% as an FDA study revealed that menthol cigarettes pose an even greater public health risk than normal cigarettes do, though the agency stopped short of recommending specific policy measures. Lorillard, more so than other major tobacco players, faces more dire financial repercussions from the ruling, since it owns the Newport brand, the premier menthol cigarette in the United States.
Lastly, online streaming provider Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX ) slid 4.5% after subscriber gains fell short of expectations. While it was an interesting touch to hold the earnings call on a live video conference, the medium didn't distract from the message. The message Wall Street gleaned from the call was that its current heady growth projections for the company were a bit too ambitious. Though Tuesday's performance was disappointing, the service still added 630,000 new subscribers in the U.S., and longer-term investors have still seen Netflix's stock rocket 170% in 2013 alone.