It used to be that for the most part, the only news that would move the U.S. stock market involved the U.S. economy. Yet the economy has truly become global, and the market's moves this morning show evidence of how interlinked the whole world has become. Weak readings on the state of the economies of China and Europe contributed to the overall malaise in the markets this morning, and although the Philly Fed reading on business conditions improved more than expected, it is still below the zero level, indicating continuing pressure on economic activity. This, along with jobless-claims numbers that disappointed investors, set a negative opening tone, and the Dow Jones Industrials (INDEX: ^DJI ) fell about 22 points around 10:45 a.m. EDT.
Focusing on Dow stocks, the usual economically sensitive suspects were down the most on the day. But Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ ) was also among the biggest losers, falling 2% on rumors about the possible sales of its Electronic Data Systems outsourcing division. HP denied the rumor, but the speculation is an indication of how desperate investors are for any sort of news indicating a solid strategy for HP going forward.
Chevron (NYSE: CVX ) and ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM ) both rose modestly despite another drop in oil prices today. With crude fetching about $91.50 per barrel, the price of oil has fallen more than 8% just since last Friday. For those who are optimistic about the prospects for QE3's success, the drop seems out of sync with the boom in other asset classes. If it persists long enough, then Exxon and Chevron will feel the pain in their bottom lines in a quarter or two.
Finally, Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT ) jumped more than half a percent. A German court determined that Motorola Mobility had infringed on one of Microsoft's patents. Combine this with a dividend boost, and Microsoft has been making investors pretty happy lately, although its coming Windows 8 release will overshadow minor patent-related news.
When markets fall, you need to take stock and figure out what's happening to the companies you track. With Microsoft, there's a lot to keep track of. Get the help you need by reading the Fool's premium report on Microsoft. With in-depth analysis from our top tech team as well as regular updates, you'll always be up to speed. Click here and try it today.