Sometimes broad-based market indexes like the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) can't win for trying, and today was one of those days. Having begun the day decisively higher, the S&P 500 succumbed to weak factory data, which saw the purchasing managers index (PMI) dip into contractionary territory at 49.5. Also, it wouldn't be a day if fiscal cliff worries and a lack of any real progress didn't hang over the market like a dark cloud.
In total, the S&P 500 dipped 6.72 points (-0.47%) to finish at 1,409.46.
Leading the move lower were online streaming content provider Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) and glass container manufacturer Owens-Illinois (NYSE:OI), which shed 7% and 3.4%, respectively. Although these two companies have veritably nothing to do with each other from a business standpoint, they both stand to suffer from a global slowdown.
For Owens-Illinois, a reduction in spending internationally could cause glass sales and prices in Europe to fall. Thankfully for shareholders, with the company valued at a cheap seven times forward earnings, the company is quite a bargain here.
Netflix hasn't had the same luck. With DVD subscribership going down the tubes and Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN) using its cash and clout to garner content deals as it builds its streaming library, Netflix could be left with nothing but a coal in its stocking come this winter.
If you're looking for a few bright spots in today's down market, look no further than the tech sector, where chipmaker Advanced Micro Devices (NASDAQ:AMD) and PC-maker Dell (UNKNOWN:UNKNOWN) shot higher by 7.3% and 4.4%.
For AMD, this has been the continuation of a rally that began around Black Friday. Investors have their fingers crossed that new, lighter laptop designs and price cuts on PCs will drive consumers to open their wallets and boost PC sales once more. AMD is preparing to lay off up to 15% of its workforce to cut expenses, and I think it makes for an interesting gamble at these levels.
Dell, on the other hand, shot out of the gate like a cannonball after an analyst at Goldman Sachs boosted his rating on Dell to "buy" from "sell" and bumped his price target to $13 from $9. The covering analyst, Bill Shope, noted that Wall Street has been overly pessimistic on Dell's PC business while neglecting growth in its cloud-computing and mobile operations. This is exactly why I bought Dell for my personal portfolio last month; tons of cash and sustainable free cash flow make this company a viable turnaround candidate.
A raging torrent
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Fool contributor Sean Williams owns shares of Dell but has no material interest in any other companies mentioned in this article. You can follow him on CAPS under the screen name TMFUltraLong, track every pick he makes under the screen name TrackUltraLong, and check him out on Twitter, where he goes by the handle @TMFUltraLong.
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