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.
With no momentum behind it, and a dearth of bullish catalysts to propel it higher, the S&P 500 Index (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) dropped Friday, as consumer confidence unexpectedly slipped from a six-year high this month. The benchmark index fell five points, or 0.3%, to end at 1,655 today; it still sits on 17% gains thus far this year. Unfortunately, three of the S&P's biggest laggards today have also slumped on the year, falling anywhere from 24% to 40%.
Cliffs Natural Resources (NYSE:CLF), after rallying more than 30% in the last month, lost 3.9% today. After the recent run-up -- sparked by encouraging factory data from the energy-needy Chinese market -- gave the markets some hope about Cliffs' future prospects, the proof is still in the proverbial pudding. Fresh off a year during which the company lost nearly $1 billion, and with global demand shifting from coal to other energy resources, Cliffs needs to persuade investors each quarter that it's not slowly burning out.
J.C. Penney (NYSE:JCP) continues to struggle through its highly publicized disaster story, shedding 3.1%. Stock in the department store has plummeted this year as the company tries to regain popularity among its customers, many of whom were ostracized by a radically changed pricing model and image revamp last year. Today, terms were released to an agreement allowing hedge fund manager Bill Ackman's Pershing Square to liquidate its 18% stake in J.C. Penney, a pact that puts added pressure on shares.
Lastly, the $18 billion fertilizer and chemicals giant Mosaic (NYSE:MOS) dropped 3.1% Friday. A weekly agricultural report from the U.S. government, showing the condition of American crops, showed continued plant health, sparking fears that farmers won't be using as much fertilizer this season, because it won't be as necessary. Mosaic, which produces potash -- a vital ingredient in most fertilizers -- is also suffering from the recent breakup of a Russian potash cartel, which caused global prices for the resource to crash last month.