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.
Monday started where last week left off, as far as the stock market was concerned, as investors were content to add to last week's gains on increased optimism about the future of U.S. economic conditions. With what could have been a controversial appointment to head the Federal Reserve now off the table, market participants were more hopeful that the Fed will sustain its investor-friendly policies well into the future. The Dow Jones Industrials (^DJI 1.27%) finished up almost 119 points finally finished the day down almost 26 points, while broader market measures had similarly modest declines.
Yet in looking at the stocks that missed the rally, the three biggest losses came from tech stocks. Hewlett-Packard (HPQ 1.26%) led the losers with a drop of 1.5%, as investors continue to assess the impact of changing trends in demand for technology products. Perhaps the most telling trend came from research firm IDC, which now predicts that tablet sales will surpass PCs by the fourth quarter of this year. HP's efforts to diversify its business will endure long after the stock leaves the Dow at the end of this week, but investors are still nervous about whether it can follow through on its turnaround strategy.
Microsoft (MSFT 1.70%), also a potential victim of the trend away from PCs, fell 0.7%. One big question is whether efforts of its rivals to offer variants on its key Office software products will end up being successful. At the moment, competitors are offering free products with the hope that they can woo longtime users away from Microsoft. With key trends toward cloud computing gaining momentum, Microsoft needs to defend itself from the loss of its key business in order to keep its bullish argument alive.
Finally, Intel (INTC 1.46%) rounded out the losing tech trifecta with a loss of 0.2%, even as some investors are hopeful that its Bay Trail line of system-on-chip processors will represent a viable entry into the mobile-device market. Critics argue that by focusing on tablets more than smartphones, Intel could end up missing the long-run boat in mobile as well. But it's important to remember not just the top-of-the-line U.S. mobile market but also other international markets, where consumers are playing catch-up and where older trends might play out profitably for Intel.