Depending on the day, the market may be fearful of the Federal Reserve tapering down its bond-buying program or piling into stocks because the Fed won't end stimulus in a struggling economy. Today, the focus is on the latter, and companies relying on housing or construction are dropping as a result. Mortgage rates are on the rise, and Core Logic's announcement that home prices were up 12.1% in April from a year ago didn't ease concerns. By 3:20 p.m. EDT the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) was off 0.64%, and the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) had fallen 0.67%.
Home Depot (NYSE:HD) and Alcoa (NYSE:AA) have led the Dow's losses today, falling 2.6% and 2%, respectively. If tapering does occur and interest rates rise, it would have a negative effect on new-home construction and refinancing markets. This would be a drag on Home Depot's results, but it wouldn't be the end of the world. Home remodeling drives the company, and a slight rise in mortgage rates wouldn't be detrimental to that market.
At Alcoa, the recent fear about interest rates may have a greater long-term effect. Low interest rates have encouraged companies to spend on manufacturing improvements and capital expenditures, but rising rates could slow investment and demand in an industry already dealing with oversupply. Today, the UAE also announced that it's consolidating its aluminum manufacturers to make the world's fifth-largest aluminum supplier. The macro picture doesn't look strong for Alcoa, and it's not a stock I'd be buying with interest rates on the raise.
One stock that is up and looking better by the day is Intel (NASDAQ:INTC). Yesterday, Samsung said the Galaxy Note 3 would be powered by an Intel chip, and investors have continued to push the stock higher, lifting it 0.7% today. Intel is finally gaining some momentum in the tablet space, and with its 14 nanometer chip called Broadwell coming out next year, the company could finally make a dent in smartphones as well.
Fool contributor Travis Hoium manages an account that owns shares of Intel. The Motley Fool recommends Home Depot and Intel. The Motley Fool owns shares of Intel. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.