Today's 3 Worst Stocks in the S&P 500

Today's 3 Worst Stocks in the S&P 500

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over daily movements, we do like to keep an eye on market changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

The stock market, fresh off its eighth consecutive week of gains, cooled down a bit on Monday, as all three major U.S. indexes ended in the red. The S&P 500 Index backed off from the all-time highs of last week as fresh data increased the threat of Federal Reserve tapering. The manufacturing sector continued to expand in November, shifting focus to the nonfarm payroll numbers at the end of the week. It sounds callous, but a miserable job market will likely maintain the central bank's loose money policies and facilitate continued gains on Wall Street. A strong manufacturing sector and unimpressive Thanksgiving retail sales sent the S&P 4 points, or 0.3%, lower, as the benchmark ended at 1,800.

Diversified industrial giant 3M had a rough go of it Monday, as shares slumped 4.4%. Thankfully the slump came on the heels of a downgrade from a Morgan Stanley analyst, rather than some operational fiasco, lawsuit, or recall. The analyst in question, a Mr. Nigel Coe, feels margins have peaked and the stock is overvalued after its 36% run this year. Investors may want to use one of 3M's ubiquitous Post-it notes, however, to remind themselves that there's nothing wrong with owning an industry leader paying a solid dividend for the long-run.

Newmont Mining investors have also seen better days. Shares fell 4% Monday, reaching new 52-week depths as metals prices continued to stumble. Gold fell by 2.3% to just over $1,221 an ounce, while copper ended at $3.18 a pound, well below its $3.78 52-week peak. These are Newmont's two primary products -- products that usually command higher prices in the face of a devalued dollar. But any deviation from the Federal Reserve's loose-money policies isn't likely to drive the dollar lower, so gold bugs are cooling off as a result. To add insult to injury, it might not be long before a single unit of the crypto-currency bitcoin is worth more than an ounce of gold -- the value of the emerging currency, trading in the low teens earlier this year, now sits above $1,000. Perhaps Newmont's mining for the wrong thing.

Lastly, shares of United States Steel dropped 2.4% Monday. You don't see too many start-up steel companies nowadays, a virtue of the industry's high cost of entry. So while United States Steel shareholders may never lose sleep over competitors springing up out of nowhere, the threat of current rivals strengthening is very real. This weekend, in fact, ArcelorMittal and Nippon Steel & Sumitomo joined forces to acquire ThyssenKrupp's Alabama steel plant for nearly $1.6 billion. The state-of-the-art facility, which opened just three years ago, should greatly improve the supply chains of these U.S. Steel competitors in the North American market.

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