Sometimes the market doesn't seem to know where it wants to go. This morning, stocks opened higher, fell to an early loss, and subsequently gained back those losses to push back into positive territory. That kind of back-and-forth may be exactly what investors are expecting from tonight's first Presidential debate as the candidates try to score points on their plans to get the economy moving forward at a faster pace. Jobs will be at the forefront of the debate, and the latest reading on private-sector employment showed a better-than-expected gain of 162,000 in September. At around 10:45 a.m. EDT, the Dow Jones Industrials (DJINDICES:^DJI) were up about 10 points.
Among rising stocks in the Dow, tech giants were well-represented, with Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ), Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), and Cisco Systems (NASDAQ:CSCO) all moving upward in early trade. HP is making its annual presentation to investors this morning, and many hope that CEO Meg Whitman will give more details on the company's overall strategy to halt the decline in its PC business while moving forward in the mobile arena and emphasizing strengths like enterprise services and printers.
Meanwhile, Cisco continues to climb after an analyst upgrade yesterday pointed to the potential for a pick-up in spending from federal government buyers as the fiscal year came to a close on Sunday. And Microsoft benefited from a bullish call from Bernstein Research arguing that the coming Windows 8 release could come off better than many expect.
On the downside, Alcoa (NYSE:AA) fell by 1%. The company's controversial Italian smelter continues to draw attention: The European Commission granted Alcoa's plant rights to low-cost electricity through 2015. But investors are more likely focusing on the company's impending earnings report next week. Analysts expect the company to remain profitable but net income to fall dramatically from year-ago levels.
Fool contributor Dan Caplinger doesn't own shares of the companies mentioned in this article. You can follow him on Twitter @DanCaplinger. The Motley Fool owns shares of Cisco Systems and Microsoft. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended creating a synthetic covered call position in Microsoft. 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 Fool has a disclosure policy.