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On a day of mixed macroeconomic news, it all came down to earnings. Even with Intel (Nasdaq: INTC ) having reported last night that it doesn't expect as strong a third quarter as some had hoped, the downward revisions apparently weren't enough to spook investors. The resulting enthusiasm pulled the market up from an opening loss, and despite a tepid Beige Book report from the Federal Reserve, the Dow Jones Industrials (INDEX: ^DJI ) rose more than 100 points today.
Typically, you can expect several pockets of strength in the Dow. But today, it was all about tech. Although Intel's 3.3% gain led the Dow, Cisco Systems (Nasdaq: CSCO ) , IBM (NYSE: IBM ) , and Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT ) all rose 2.5% or more on the day.
Intel's report affects all of these companies by putting tech's immediate future into an understandable framework. On one hand, the coming release of Windows 8 will mark a chance for Microsoft to unify its approach to providing service for PCs and mobile devices alike, which in turn will give investors a roadmap for assessing its ability to adapt to future technological advances. Intel will work hard to make a similar straddle between PC and mobile offerings.
Meanwhile, IBM and Cisco stand to gain more from the infrastructure and service needs that growth in technological innovation will require. After the bell, IBM reported higher-than-expected earnings even after revenue fell short of expectations and lifted its estimates for 2012 profits by a dime per share. But its hardware business had much weaker sales than its software and services sectors. That's a trend that both IBM and Cisco need to take advantage of if they want to become stronger in the ultra-competitive tech industry.
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