The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) is fighting for investors, but it continues to lose. As of 12:53 p.m. EST, the Dow is up a fraction of a percent to 12,820. Fears that the U.S. may fall off the fiscal cliff and that other world economies are slowing have taken the breath out of the bulls.
Today, 20 of the Dow's 30 components are in the red, and while most of them are just slightly down, there are a few sliding more than 1%. Three of today's biggest losers are Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ), and Travelers (NYSE:TRV).
So why are they down?
Microsoft's CEO announced today that sales of the new Surface tablet have been "modest," blaming limited availability. Currently the Surface is only available online and in a few Microsoft stores in the U.S. As a shareholder, I find this worrying. Microsoft has already missed the boat on the tablet market, and now that the company is finally venturing out to sea, it has made its new device difficult for consumers to get. When a company comes out with a new product, customers want to touch it, play with it, and see what it has to offer. They can't do that online, and they're unlikely to do so in a store that's hundreds of miles away. Microsoft needs to get the Surface in electronic stores nationwide before the holiday shopping begins, or the company will likely fall even further behind in the tablet market. Shares are down 1.39% today.
Hewlett-Packard shareholders are also experiencing some pain today as shares drop 1.4% thanks to a weak outlook in the PC market. In Microsoft's announcement today, CEO Steve Ballmer also said 4 million Windows 8 upgrades have been sold in the three days following the operating system's launch. With the PC market shrinking, most investors believed Windows 8 was the last hope for a struggling industry, and sales of 4 million are not what most wanted to see. The PC companies still have the upcoming shopping season to look forward to, but at this point, they probably need more than just Windows 8 to revive demand.
Lastly, Travelers insurance is down another 1% today. Hurricane Sandy and its aftermath have been devastating to areas of the East Coast, and with every passing day the total cost of the storm seems to increase. While it will be a while before we know the total cost of the storm, investors continue to speculate and sell the insurers.