On a day filled with high hopes and wishes that tomorrow Santa Claus delivers everything we hoped for and more, the Grinch appears to have stolen the show. Continued bickering over the fiscal cliff between both political parties -- and the reality that in just a week we'll all be paying higher taxes if nothing gets done -- is beginning to settle in with investors.
On the shortened trading day, the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) finished modestly lower by 3.26 points (-0.24%) to end at 1,426.66.
As you might imagine, volume was light all the way around today, with tech stocks bringing up the rear of the pack. While hardly anything to write home about, chip maker Advanced Micro Devices (NASDAQ:AMD), and PC makers Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) and Dell (UNKNOWN:UNKNOWN) have all had a nice bounce off their lows. Today, we saw a reversal of that fortune, with AMD giving back better than 4% and HP and Dell shedding around 2% each.
Clearly, the fiscal cliff is on nearly every investor's mind, and the worry that PC sales could suffer if consumer discretionary budgets are affected is definitely weighing on the sector. However, I'd also point to the fact that PC sales, while down this year, are off by less than 1% and have only had two down years since 2000. A cluster of newer, lighter laptops from these companies, as well as innovative new AMD chips, could be the impetus that sends these stocks roaring back in 2013.
If you're looking for a bright spot in today's light trading, I'd have to ask if you've driven a Ford (NYSE:F) lately. The U.S. automaker jumped 4.6% on Christmas Eve, on the heels of a pending sale of the U.S. Treasury's remaining shares of General Motors (NYSE:GM). Ford CEO Alan Mulally will be quick to remind everyone that his company didn't take a bailout when times got tough. Assuming Ford can continue producing fuel-efficient vehicles on par with what's coming out of Japan or South Korea, shareholders could be in for a pleasant 2013.
Out for a Sunday drive
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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