Last Week's Big Dow Losers


A week full of economic data sent the markets lower. Monday's Institute for Supply Management report started things off on the negative foot, and then factory orders came on Tuesday, which showed signs of both strength and weakness in the economy. Then on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, investors were hit by one poor jobs report after another. And after ending last week on a high note, with the S&P 500 hitting a new record high, investors ended this week thinking the economy looks rather weak in its current stage.

And with that, the Dow Jones Industrial Average ended the week down 13 points, or 0.09%, and now sits at 14,578. The S&P 500 performed slightly worse, as it lost 15 points, or 1.01%, and the Nasdaq had its worst week of 2013, losing 63 points, or 1.94%.

Although the Dow lost during the week, its components were split down the middle -- half moved higher, while half headed lower.

Before we hit the Dow losers, let's look at the index's big winner of the week. After rising 5.05% two weeks ago, shares of UnitedHealth Group rose another 8.5% this past week. The main reason for the increase was the announcement on Monday that reversed the previously planned 2.2% cut to the Medicare Advantage payout and instead raised it by 3.3%. This turnaround should help not only UnitedHealth but also all the insurance providers.

The big losers
Shares of Bank of America ended the week lower by 1.72%. The main decline came on Wednesday after the Mortgage Bankers Association released a report indicating a 4% decline in home loan applications in last week. The association contributed poor refinancing numbers as the cause for the overall decline.

While most would ultimately blame the housing market and high foreclosure rates as the cause of the most recent recession, the big banks need a strong mortgage market to turn a profit. We've seen the banks slowly move away from the riskier investments and into more stable ones over the past few years, and home mortgages are a large part of the so-called safer side of banking.

Shares of IBM ended the week lower by 1.82% after an independent study indicated that the company may no longer be the best in chips and servers, saying that Oracle's new chips and servers outperformed IBM's top-line products. IBM has long been the king of the hill, and as the competition heats up, the company will have to step up its game if it wants to remain at the top.

The biggest Dow loser this past week was Hewlett-Packard which lost 7.84% of its value. The company is in the midst of a turnaround, and a few bumps in the road should be expected. Even after this week's big loss, shares are still up more than 54% year to date.

Although shares fell a little the whole week, a big decline came on Tuesday, after Goldman Sachs analyst Bill Shope downgraded the stock. Shope said he believes shares could fall nearly 31% further from where they closed on Monday, at $23.31. While he is optimistic that current restructuring will help the company, he thinks any gains from becoming more efficient with its resources will be wiped out by weaknesses in other areas of the company's business.

Caterpillar also had a bad week, as shares fell by 2.72%. This is the ninth straight week shares of Caterpillar closed lower than were they began. In that time, the stock price has been cut lower by 14.89%. This week's big decline came on Tuesday, after the Department of Commerce released its factory orders and showed that machinery and other large equipment declined by 3.2% in February.

Other Dow losers this week:

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Fool contributor Matt Thalman owns shares of Bank of America. 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 3M, American Express, Chevron, Cisco Systems, Coca-Cola, Goldman Sachs, Intel, and UnitedHealth Group and owns shares of Bank of America, General Electric, Intel, IBM, and Oracle. 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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