Today's 3 Worst Stocks in the S&P 500

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over daily movements, we do like to keep an eye on market changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

Expectations dictate the direction of markets and judging by the last three days, Wall Street isn't expecting great things from the near future. After strong jobs data last week and impressive retail numbers that came out today, the flurry of good news is spooking investors. Next week, the Federal Reserve is holding a major policy meeting, and Wall Street's starting to expect the beginning of the end of loose money policies. The S&P 500 Index (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC  ) lost 6 points, or 0.4%, to end at 1,775.

Juniper Networks (NYSE: JNPR  ) fell 3.2% Thursday as shares of the $10 billion networking devices company were hit merely because investors sold off Juniper's industry in droves today. The technology sector, up nearly 20% this year, lost 0.5%. All three of today's notable laggards hail from the tech sector. 

JDS Uniphase (NASDAQ: JDSU  ) , which markets telecom equipment, dropped 3.1%. Although JDS Uniphase is far smaller than Juniper at a market cap of less than $3 billion, it has been in acquisition mode, scooping up Network Instruments, a maker of "enterprise network and application-performance management solutions," for $200 million. Though acquiring companies will often see share prices drop modestly on major acquisitions, the bigger issue is JDS Uniphase's replacement in the S&P 500 Index. That's right, JDS is getting the boot from the renowned benchmark, which has practical ramifications because funds seeking to track the index will be forced to dispose of shares, putting downward pressure on the stock. 

Finally, shares of tech giant Oracle (NYSE: ORCL  ) , which is worth many times the value of the previous two companies combined, stumbled 2.8% after an analyst downgrade. When Oracle shares fluctuate wildly on a given day, it tends to influence the way its peers and rivals -- read Juniper Networks here -- trade. The application software behemoth was downgraded by both Morgan Stanley and RBC Capital Thursday, with both research outfits giving shares what essentially amounts to a neutral rating. The emergence of cloud computing competitors and decreased spending on IT from China were both cited as major reasons for the downgrades. Investors will get a better feel for Oracle's financial health this coming Wednesday, December 18, when the company releases its quarterly results. 


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