These Stocks Helped the Dow Survive Today

A tough week on the earnings front took its toll on the stock market, with the Dow Jones Industrials (INDEX: ^DJI  ) posting a substantial loss of more than 235 points since last Friday's close. But at least today, the Dow managed to pick itself off the floor, wiping out a 60-point loss earlier in the session, to finish the day up four points. Bulls pointed to positive news on the economic front, with higher GDP and consumer confidence contributing to a somewhat better mood among investors.

Among winning stocks, technology giants Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) and Intel (Nasdaq: INTC  ) topped the list, both rising more than 1%. Microsoft was particularly newsworthy, as its launch of Windows 8 finally brought a long wait for investors to an end. Moreover, the release of its Surface tablet marks the company's latest attempt to jump on the mobile bandwagon. Yet for both Microsoft and Intel, the larger strategic question is whether a new operating system will mark both companies' transition to a less PC-reliant business model, or whether failures will force the companies, once again, to retrench and come up with different strategies going forward. Neither company can afford to wait much longer to demonstrate its ability to keep up with changing times.

United Technologies (NYSE: UTX  ) also rose more than 1%. The company said after the bell yesterday that it would sell the engine control and pump business that it acquired as part of the Goodrich transaction to TransDigm, for $236 million. This doesn't come as a big surprise, given that the sale of the unit was an express condition for approval of the Goodrich merger; but it does mark one more accomplishment for United Tech on its way toward fully integrating itself into its core business.

Finally, Verizon (NYSE: VZ  ) climbed about 1%, as the company continues to deal with huge sales volumes following the release of the iPhone 5. Although analysts emphasize the short-term earnings hit that Verizon takes when it sells a highly subsidized smartphone, the company reaps huge rewards from expensive data plans that the phone purchases lock customers into for two years. With consumers taking for granted that they can't do better than the prices that Verizon and its peers charge, competition happens more on network quality, and Verizon has done its best to maximize its position with its wireless network.

Will PCs really ever die?
As big a deal as new mobile technology is, it's still hard for many people to believe that PCs will ever truly go away. Yet, Microsoft has operated on the assumption that it needs to branch out to create a presence in the mobile market. With Windows 8 and the Surface tablet, is it finally time for investors to buy Microsoft? In our new premium report on the company, our analyst explains that , while Microsoft's opportunity is huge, it faces many challenges. He's also providing regular updates as key events occur, so make sure to claim a copy of this report now by clicking here.


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