Why the Dow Ended the Week on a Skid


At least it's not all bad news today. E*TRADE baby aside, if you're reading this article, you're old enough to remember the financial crisis, when every sliver of economic data, and nearly every word in a company's earnings report, was negative, almost without exception.

Today, though, we heard encouraging reports about domestic and Chinese manufacturing, and U.S. production even rose more in November than any other month in the last two years. Yet, worries about the fiscal cliff were still enough to hold the markets captive, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 35 points, or 0.27%, to 13,135, to close the week on a sour note.

Hewlett-Packard -- one of only two Dow companies to gain more than 1% on the day -- could not be sullied by the broader market's losses, and added more than 1.7%. Down more than 40% on the year, investors have been buying back the stock in the last month, and HP shares have rallied more than 12% in that time.

Merck shares, on the other hand, despite facing a rather dramatic cliff of its own in 2012, have performed well on the year, but struggled today, falling about 0.9%. CEO Kenneth Frazier is probably wishing he didn't speak so pessimistically earlier this week about the industry's future in the face of health-care overhaul.

But the real mammoth kick to the markets on Friday came from Apple , which plummeted nearly 4%, after an analyst downgrade and continuing fallout from the Apple Maps fiasco. Investors are still getting used to a post-Steve Jobs era that's been anything but smooth. Still, now may just be the perfect time for value hawks to swoop in on this one.

Finally, Chinese-run First Solar moved boldly higher, adding 2.5%. Hearing the positive manufacturing data from China didn't hurt in a week where solar investors already had reason to cheer. The Chinese government also raised solar subsidies by more than $1 billion, while Elon Musk's SolarCity went public yesterday, and saw shares rise nearly 50% in the process.

There's no doubt that Apple is at the center of technology's largest revolution ever, and that longtime shareholders have been handsomely rewarded with over 1,000% gains. However, there is a debate raging as to whether Apple remains a buy. The Motley Fool's senior technology analyst and managing bureau chief, Eric Bleeker, is prepared to fill you in on both reasons to buy and reasons to sell Apple, and what opportunities are left for the company (and more importantly, your portfolio) going forward. To get instant access to his latest thinking on Apple, simply click here now.

The article Why the Dow Ended the Week on a Skid originally appeared on Fool.com.

John Divine owns shares of Apple. You can follow him on Twitter @divinebizkid and on Motley Fool CAPS @TMFDivine.The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple. Motley Fool newsletter services recommend Apple and First Solar. 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.

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