Today's 3 Worst Stocks

You won't see many markets trading as sideways as the S&P 500 Index did Monday. A remarkable cocktail of positive, negative, and neutral data had Wall Street on its best horizontal behavior: Israel cut its interest rates, U.S. retail sales were hardly changed, and industrial production in China decelerated slightly. The following three S&P stocks had no problem deciding which direction to go; they just went the wrong way for investors.

First and foremost, coal miner Peabody Energy saw 4.1% losses today as energy stocks slipped. It's no wonder shares are getting hit when you look at how analysts have adjusted their opinion of Peabody over the last few years. You have to go all the way back to January 2011 to see the last time an investment bank raised its price target on shares. With greenhouse gases at levels not seen in 300 million years, you can understand the reluctance of informed 21st century consumers to embrace "dirty coal."

Joy Global doesn't mine for coal; it merely makes the machines that mine for coal. The deceleration in Chinese production caused both materials companies and industrials to decline today as demand concerns sparked a sell-off. Joy slipped 3.6%, continuing its downward trend in 2013. Trading at just eight times earnings, this is a stock that investors don't expect much from. Shares have underperformed the S&P by 24% already this year.

The last of today's laggards, U.S. Steel , was also directly hurt by the data out of China today. Shares slid 3.5% as the materials sector closed the day as the worst of the 10 major market sectors. U.S. Steel didn't have any huge company-specific news that drove shares down -- it was enough that the world's second-largest economy and one of the most promising areas for growth showed sluggish industrial advances.

The coal industry in the United States has been in a state of flux since the arrival of a cheaper alternative for energy production: natural gas. Exports are becoming a much bigger part of the domestic coal landscape, and Peabody Energy has deals in place to get its cheaper coal from the Powder River and Illinois basins to India, China, and the EU. For investors looking to capitalize on a rebound in the U.S. coal market, The Motley Fool has authored a special new premium report detailing exactly why Peabody Energy is perhaps most worthy of your consideration. Don't miss out on this invaluable resource — simply click here now to claim your copy today.

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