The Day on the Dow: Tech Tanked and Apple Sank

Today was a pretty boring day when looking at the boarder markets. Coming off a week that should be described as anything but boring, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI) rose slightly today, gaining just less than 72 points on the day, or roughly 0.6%. Both the Nasdaq and S&P 500 ended the day in the red, falling 0.8% and 0.1%, respectively.

Macro news also came in mixed today. On the negative side, Spain's borrowing costs rose above 6% for the first time since before the European Central Bank began intervening in global debt markets, indicating that investors still have their doubts about the viability of austerity plans in one of Europe's largest economies. On the brighter side of things, U.S. March retail sales grew by 0.8%, coming in just shy of the 1% gains seen in February. This further bolsters the case that a strengthening consumer can continue to fuel the slow recovery in the United States, despite recent headwinds such as rising gas prices.

Around the market
Tech-specific stocks took a drubbing today. On the Dow, tech stocks represented three of the six stocks that fell in value during the trading session. After leading the Dow with a rare 6.3% gain last week, personal-computer juggernaut Hewlett-Packard (NYS: HPQ) led the Dow downward today, posting a 1.1% decline. Although the company certainly did benefit in the first quarter from stronger-than-expected PC shipments and market-share gains, the again tech giant still has no adequate answer to address the rise of smart devices like the iPhone and Kindle Fire.

Similarly, both Cisco Systems (NAS: CSCO) and IBM (NYS: IBM) lost value on the day, albeit not quite to the degree of HP. They ended today down 6.3% and 0.04%, respectively. Big tech sold off heavily today, which probably played a role in dragging these blue-chip names downward.

Most surprisingly, Apple (NAS: AAPL) also showed that it can't defy gravity. Shares of the iDevice maker dropped 4.2% today, marking the fifth consecutive daily decline for what could fairly be called the market's hottest stock thus far this year. With Apple having fallen nearly 10% from its all-time high, it seems investors have grown skeptical that the company can maintain its thunderous growth, despite having arguably the most enviable position in the burgeoning smart-device market. Even with its recent pullback, though, expect some heady growth numbers out of Cupertino when Apple announces its first-quarter earnings next week.

With earnings season picking up steam, investors need to stay vigilant for potential opportunities. And while we always advocate investing for the long term, earnings season can create plenty of opportunity for the intelligent investor. To highlight five stocks we think have a chance of winning big this earnings season (and for years afterward as well), the Fool recently detailed five stocks investors need to watch this earnings season in a free research report for our readers (spoiler alert: Apple makes the cut). Access your free copy today.

At the time this article was published Fool contributor Andrew Tonner held no position in any of the companies mentioned in this article. You can follow him and all his Foolish writing on Twitter at @AndrewTonner. The Motley Fool owns shares of Cisco Systems, Apple, and IBM.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of Apple and creating a bull call spread position in Apple. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insightsmakes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days.

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