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.

"Another day, another negligible swing in the stock market," is what I always say. The phrase, sadly, has never caught on, and is routinely ignored in favor of trite expressions like, "Another day, another dollar," word vomit such as, "A penny saved is a penny earned," and downright lies in the form of, "I'll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today."

Yet, negligible swings in the stock market, over a long period of time, are arguably a stronger force than even Wimpy's spinach-addicted pal Popeye. If the S&P 500 Index had ticked up by just 0.1% each day of trading in 2013, it would be sitting at nearly 28.6% gains come New Year's Day, 2014. In reality, the S&P was up 29.6% last year. But the point remains: Don't ignore small, compounded gains -- like today's -- because they add up. The S&P added 0.6 points, or 0.03%, to end at 1,838 on Thursday. It could be the start of something great. 

If this was the beginning of something great for Cliffs Natural Resources , the stock showed no signs of it, shedding 6.5% Thursday. The company mines for iron ore and coal, and with bad little boys and girls across the globe selling their Christmas stashes on the unregulated black market, Cliffs needs to assert itself before young Timmy parlays his sins into an unstoppable energy empire. In all seriousness, though, Cliffs Natural sells iron ore to steel producers in Asia and, with a recent movement by Chinese industry to focus on efficiency and the environment, the country is ratcheting down its steel production.

While the Pittsburgh-based United States Steel adheres to its proud name by marketing steel domestically, it also sells the alloy in Europe. And while it is avoiding the direct fallout of China's ebbing appetite, United States Steel stock still lost 4.4% today. Just days ago, investment bank UBS downgraded U.S. Steel stock in favor of competitors that utilize the so-called "mini-mill" production technology, which tends to have lower input costs. Analysts aside, with slow recoveries under way in both the U.S. and Europe, don't write off this stock just yet. Incremental gains add up, remember?

Lastly, chip maker NVIDIA dropped 3.7% today, also in reaction to a sour analyst outlook. Canaccord Genuity downgraded shares from buy to hold, emphasizing how totally unimpressed it was with NVIDIA's performance at the Consumer Electronics Show. Yes, Canaccord Genuity analysts, who stare at cash flow statements and amortization tables from dusk to dawn, are apparently bored to death with NVIDIA's whole "Tegra" project -- you know, the system on a chip that could take graphics on mobile devices to places we've never known? Yeah, yawn. Personally, I think there's an enthusiastic market dying to use products like this: ones that allow for great gaming graphics to be enjoyed on mobile devices.

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Fool contributor John Divine has no position in any stocks mentioned. You can follow him on Twitter @divinebizkid and on Motley Fool CAPS @TMFDivine.The Motley Fool recommends Nvidia. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not 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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