Big Tech and Manufacturing Pull the Markets Lower


Even though a number over 50 in the Institute for Supply Management's factory index indicates growth, a decline from the previous month's reading still means things are slowing down. That's part of why the major indexes all fell today. The ISM data released this morning showed that the reading for manufacturing production in March fell to 51.3, after hitting 54.2 in February.

That key data point helped push the Dow Jones Industrial Average down 5.69 points, or 0.04%, while the other major indexes performed much worse. The S&P 500 lost 0.45% today, and the Nasdaq fell by 0.87%.

This morning, I discussed a few Dow components that were down on the ISM data, and one technology stock that was moving lower after a downgrade. To read about those stocks, click here. And now, on to the day's closing data.

Other Dow losers
While the poor manufacturing data surely played some role in Boeing's 0.7% drop today, investors may have also been selling because of a Seattle Times report that a 787 test flight was delayed on Saturday. At a time when airlines are canceling flights and leasing planes from Boeing competitors because of the 787 grounding, Boeing needs everything to run smoothly and experience zero delays while it attempts to regain FAA approval for its Dreamliner.

Shares of IBM also ended the day down by 0.43%. To me, IBM often seems to be forgotten about, and perhaps with good reason. Year to date, the stock is up 10.82%, which is slightly below the Dow's 11.08% gain. Shares also currently trade at a below average price to earnings of just over 14, but the 1.6% dividend yield is lacking other technology stocks, as Cisco has a yield of 2.7%, while Intel boasts a 4.1% yield, and even Apple has a 2.4% dividend yield.

The big tech company is constantly fighting to stay one step ahead of the competition, and the question investors need to ask is: How much fight is left in your father's favorite stock?

Finally, shares of Hewlett-Packard fell 2.22% today. My Fool colleague John Divine noted earlier today that one of the company's top executives is leaving to work for Silver Lake Partners, the private equity firm involved in the deal to take Dell private. John thinks that losing a top leader in the middle of a turnaround isn't what shareholders want to see, and while I must completely agree, I'm not sold on HP's turnaround and would by no means touch shares even after today's decline.

The massive wave of mobile computing has done much to unseat the major players in the PC market, including venerable technology names like Hewlett-Packard. However, HP's rapidly shifting its strategy under the new leadership of CEO Meg Whitman. But does this make HP one of the least-appreciated turnaround stories on the market, or is this a minor blip on its road to irrelevance? The Motley Fool's technology analyst details exactly what investors need to know about HP in our new premium research report. Just click here now to get your copy today.

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Fool contributor Matt Thalman owns shares of Apple. Check back Monday through Friday as Matt explains what caused the Dow's winners and losers of the day, and every Saturday for a weekly recap. Follow Matt on Twitter: @mthalman5513. The Motley Fool recommends Apple and Cisco Systems and owns shares of Apple and IBM. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't 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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