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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.
After the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) and the S&P 500 had been on a five-week winning streak and the Nasdaq on a four-week streak during November, all three of the major indexes finished this past week in the red. The most recent weekly decline comes after the Dow and S&P 500 also ended lower two weeks ago, which means the two have now started themselves a nice losing streak. This past week the Dow shed 264 points, or 1.65%, while the broader S&P 500 fell 29 points, or 1.64%, and the Nasdaq declined 61 points, or 1.51%.
The week was dominated by fear and worry that the Federal Reserve will begin tapering its bond-buying program at its upcoming Dec. 17-18 meeting, which will be Chairman Ben Bernanke's last. Because Bernanke will soon be leaving, some investors are speculating that the chairman will start the tapering now to take some of the pressure and consequences off incoming Chairman Janet Yellen. Additionally, the economy seems to be improving, with the national unemployment rate now down to 7% as the number of jobs throughout the country continues to grow. Also, consumer confidence is slowly moving higher, and housing prices are steadily rising. But investors fear that as the Fed begins to taper, it will become more difficult for companies to perform and thus stock prices will suffer.
But even during a week like this, when the major indexes all fell more than 1.5%, we can still find a few winners. So let's take a moment to look at the Dow's top stock of last week. Credit card giant Visa (NYSE: V ) managed to outpace the Dow's 29 other components this past week by gaining 2.72%, which is an impressive gain, considering how poorly the Dow itself performed and that only three other Dow components finished the week in the black. The majority of Visa's move higher came on Friday, when the stock rose 1.93% and finished the day as the best-performing component. The move came after a judge approved Visa and rival MasterCard's $7.25 billion settlement with merchants pertaining to transaction fees. Uncertainty kills share prices, so even bad news is sometimes good news, as investors now know what the companies face and can move on.
Last week's big losers
As the search for a new CEO continues at Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT ) , shareholders continue to suffer as the stock price slowly falls. On Friday, we found out that rumored front-runner Steve Mollenkopf, currently the COO at Qualcomm, is moving into the CEO spot at his current employer. Some thought Mollenkopf would have been a great addition at Microsoft, so this announcement was quite a blow. Shares lost 4.35% this past week, making it the second worst Dow performer, but just by a hair.
The third-place finisher, Nike (NYSE: NKE ) , lost 4.33% over the past five trading sessions. Other than going ex-dividend this past week, there was very little news pertaining to the company that would have sent shares lower. The company's trading volume also spiked on Wednesday and Thursday, as 6.65 million shares and 5.41 million shares, respectively, traded hands, compared with the 2.19 million and 2.69 million shares traded on Monday and Tuesday. The rolling three-month average trading volume for Nike is currently 3.95 million shares. That information and the increased volume on Wednesday and Thursday, combined with the 3.77% decline the stock experienced those two days, suggests that a large institutional shareholder may have dumped shares of the athletic-apparel company.
And taking the top spot, shares of Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO ) lost 4.88% during the second week of December. The bulk of the decline came on Thursday and Friday, after management lowered its long-term guidance for the company. Previous three- to five-year revenue guidance was that sales would grow at a rate of 5% to 7% per year while earnings per share would grow within a range of 7% to 9%. Those figures were cut lower to revenue growth of 3% to 6% and EPS growth of 5% to 7% over the next few years. CEO John Chambers told analysts that Cisco is the canary in the coal mine, and that while the competition may not be seeing any issues within the industry npw, they certainly will in a few quarters from now. Chambers noted that Cisco has often seen problems coming well before the competition, but it will also benefit sooner than its peers when the world economies improve.
The other Dow losers this week:
- 3M, down 1.69%
- American Express, down 2.61%
- AT&T, down 1.96%
- Boeing, down 0.99%
- Chevron, down 1.95%
- Du Pont, down 1.79%
- ExxonMobil, down 0.35%
- General Electric, down 0.37%
- Home Depot, down 1.04%
- Intel, down 2.13%
- IBM, down 2.74%
- Johnson & Johnson, down 3.27%
- McDonald's, down 2.43%
- Merck, down 2.04%
- Pfizer, down 4.09%
- Procter & Gamble, down 2.54%
- Coca-Cola, down 3.04%
- Travelers, down 2.83%
- United Technologies, down 3.39%
- UnitedHealth Group, down 4.1%
- Verizon, down 3.31%
- Wal-Mart, down 2.32%
- Walt Disney, down 2.57%
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