Microsoft Corporation (MSFT), Caterpillar Inc. (CAT): S&P Saves the Dow From Steep Losses

As the markets opened this morning, they quickly fell in the red, but an unexpected move by Standard & Poor’s gave investors confidence to push stocks higher. The credit-rating agency uprgaded the U.S.’ debt rating from “AA+ negative” to “AA+ stable.” This is a sign that the agency sees less risk ahead for the economy and the U.S. government.

The news has helped the Dow Jones Industrial Average recover from steeper losses to a minor six-point drop by 12:55 p.m. EDT, while the S&P 500 sits at breakeven. And the Nasdaq holds a slight lead, up 0.2%. But even on such a yawn-worthy day of trading, some stocks are lagging the market.

Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE:CAT)

Despite my colleague Dan Caplinger’s prediction that Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE:CAT) will announce an increase to its dividend on Wednesday, shares of the Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE:CAT) are down 0.9% today. The company is also one of the Dow’s most hated stocks: Short interest in the company is at 4%, and Sean Williams explained over the weekend why investors don’t much care for the stock right now, knocking its price down 6.2% year to date to make it the worst-performing component on the blue-chip index. Sean noted that weak coal and precious-metal prices have really hurt the heavy-equipment manufacturer, but Sean feels Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE:CAT) is a good bet for the long-term investor, and I must agree with him.

In the technology world, shares of both Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Hewlett-Packard Company (NYSE:HPQ) are slipping today. Big softy is down 1%, while turnaround hopeful HP has dipped 0.6%. Both stocks have had a fabulous run year to date: Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) is up 32.84% and Hewlett-Packard Company (NYSE:HPQ) has risen 71.79%. Today’s drops could just be the result of investors taking profits as we move deeper into the slower summer months.

My colleague Evan Niu, however, noted this weekend that HP has been shifting away from the so-called “Wintel” relationship it has with Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC) and toward Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG)‘s Android, Apple’s iOS, and ARM Holdings plc (ADR) (NASDAQ:ARMH)-based chips. This shift could hurt surely hurt Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC), but I believe it also could damage HP’s relationship with its customers. Consumers who have owned and grown attached to HP devices but now can’t find similar devices may buy elsewhere. The chips may not be a huge problem, but the software may prove a serious issue, as many customers don’t want to learn a whole new operating system.

The article S&P Saves the Dow From Steep Losses originally appeared on and is written by Matt Thalman.

Fool contributor Matt Thalman owns shares of Microsoft. The Motley Fool owns shares of Microsoft. Check back Monday thru 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.

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