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.
You'd think that today's anemic numbers from the National Association of Realtors -- numbers revealing a fifth straight month of fewer pending home sales -- would put a damper on the red-hot stock market. The sales, which were expected to grow by 1% in October after September's 4.6% fall, instead fell by 0.6%. The disappointment nonetheless registered vaguely somewhere in Wall Street's consciousness, as most stocks fell Monday. However, bears held a very slim advantage over the rest of the market, as just over 51% of stocks fell, and the S&P 500 Index (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) ended down only 2 points, or 0.1%, to end at 1,802.
Shares of salesforce.com (NYSE:CRM), unlike the benchmark S&P index, were firmly committed to losing ground. Salesforce stock lost 3.6% Monday as the promotional "hackathon" event the company sponsored last week turned from a fun competition used to improve its services, get media attention, and attract talent to a public dispute about the fairness of the competition. The $1 million prize, awarded to whoever built the best mobile Salesforce-based app, ended up in the hands of a company detractors claim started the competition early and whose CTO is a former Salesforce employee. Call me old-fashioned, but I'm more concerned with Salesforce's inability to actually make money.
Newfield Exploration (NYSE:NFX), which explores for and produces oil and natural gas, saw shares shed 3.5% Monday. Nothing earth-shattering happened to drive down Newfield Exploration specifically, but this past weekend brought big news for the energy sector -- and the world, for that matter -- in general. Iran reached an agreement with the international community to tone down its nuclear program and allow access to its facilities by international investigators. This increased stability in the ever-volatile Middle Eastern region sent oil prices lower, and shares in the Texas-based Newfield experienced magnified losses of its own as a result.
Halliburton (NYSE:HAL), which is more than 10 times the size of Newfield, also took a hit today, as shares slumped 3.3%. The materials sector and the oil and gas sector, respectively, were the two worst-performing areas of the market Monday, as markets breathed a sigh of relief over the fact that there's common ground somewhere on nuclear issues in the world's most polarized region. Shares have rallied more than 50% this year, but with the stock trading at a P/E around 25, better risk/reward opportunities abound, even in today's hot market.