The Dow Can't Keep Its Head Above Water


After an up-and-down start to the week, the Dow Jones Industrial Average is giving investors a breather today. The index hasn't strayed too far since the open, down 25 points, or 0.18%, as of 2:15 p.m. EST. Dow stocks are roughly split between riser and fallers, but most of the biggest movers are on the losing end. Let's check out which companies are making waves today.

Pharma and tech lead the Dow downward
Big Pharma isn't having the best day, crimping the Dow's progress as Merck and Pfizer drop 1% and 0.4%, respectively. Both companies are still navigating the aftermath of losing patent protection on top-selling drugs, but Merck has recently run into trouble elsewhere, too. A federal jury ordered the company to pay $285,000 in a lawsuit regarding the safety risks of osteoporosis drug Fosamax -- and after Merck earlier delayed the regulatory-approval filing of promising osteoporosis drug candidate odanacatib until 2014, the company could use a bit of good news soon.

Big Pharma's hardly the only sector down today, however. Many tech stocks on the Dow can't get their feet under them. Intel ranks among the worst Dow laggards, with down 1%, while Microsoft and IBM have lost 0.8% and 0.7%, respectively. Intel and Microsoft are feeling the effects of negative early reviews of Microsoft's Surface Pro tablet, which runs on Intel tech. While some reviewers praised the product's performance, others found it an uncomfortable cross between a PC and a tablet that might not appeal to either market successfully.

That's not good for Microsoft and Intel shareholders, who have already suffered plenty of losses. Over the past six months, shares of Microsoft have fallen 8.2%, while Intel's shares have dropped 19.5%.

There is a bit of optimism from tech today, however. Hewlett-Packard , the stock that seemingly swings wildly in either direction depending on the day, is up 0.5% so far. Earlier reports surfaced that the company may be looking to break up, and while sources familiar with the issue contradicted that rumor, it's not outside the realm of possibility after HP said earlier this year that it may cut underperforming business units. Struggling PC rival Dell announced a $24 billion deal to go private on Tuesday, and it would be surprising if HP didn't make a move to shore up losses.

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