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.

December's moment of truth -- today's much-awaited Federal Open Market Committee meeting -- has come and gone. What's the damage? For most of the market, the damage was nowhere to be seen. About three stocks rose for every one that fell Wednesday, as the Fed finally began to taper its quantitative easing efforts, trimming the monthly asset purchases from $85 billion to $75 billion. Wall Street didn't mind, especially since it showed the Fed's newfound confidence in the American economy. The S&P 500 Index (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC  ) jumped 29 points, or 1.7%, to end at 1,810, an all-time closing high.

Ford Motor (NYSE: F  ) headlines today's most pronounced laggards, as shares shed 6.3% during Wednesday's session. Ford's stock got the cold shoulder from investors after the company projected flatter revenue and decreased margins as a result of several major initiatives the automaker has planned for 2014. In addition to an international campaign to strengthen its corporate, cultural, and structural pillars, Ford's marketing nearly two dozen redesigned or all-new models next year, so promotion will cost a pretty penny. To that point, several colleagues of mine wondered whether today's sell-off is due to the psychology of a short-term trader as opposed to a long-term investor.

Nothing piques interest in a stock like a controversial rumor. But Micron Technology (NASDAQ: MU  ) investors could have done without the interest today, as shares in the semiconductor company dropped 4.8% after a Bloomberg piece had markets abuzz all day. About 110 million shares of Micron Technology exchanged hands Wednesday, well above the stock's three-month average volume of just 44 million. Though Micron was by no means the subject of the article, Korean rival SKY Hyinx was -- the company plans on opening a new factory to keep up with demand, according to nameless sources. Some on Wall Street were quick to talk the news down; one Raymond James analyst went so far as to call it "pure speculation." Who's to say what plans SKY has going into the future, but rumors like this are potent one way or another, because they bring risks to the forefront of investors' minds.

Finally, shares of Tulsa, Okla.-based WPX Energy (NYSE: WPX  ) fell 3.6% after the CEO of the oil and gas exploration company, Ralph Hill, stepped down suddenly on Tuesday without explanation. Despite today's slump, it still seems like an early Christmas for the hedge fund Taconic Capital Advisors, which ranks as the second largest shareholder in WPX. Imagine the luck -- just a day after the CEO unexpectedly calls it quits, WPX Energy adds a spot to its 11-man board, then lets the hedge fund select the final member! The 12th board member will also have a say in the selection of a new CEO. Shares didn't take the news well, though, as the CEO's inexplicable departure raised more concerns than expectations.


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