It's the tail end of earnings season, but that hasn't stopped one highflying retail stock from kicking the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI ) into the green today. As of 2:25 p.m. EST, the Dow sits up 30 points, or 0.24%, after achieving a nearly 90-point gain earlier in the day. Nonetheless, a little more than half the Dow's members are up today, and investors have put fears of the fiscal cliff behind them for at least one market session.
Consumers winning the day
Stocks actually opened lower on fears of both the fiscal cliff and the failure of the Eurozone to reach a conclusion on how unsettled Greece will pay off its mounting debt. With Congress getting back into session after the presidential election, some political observers have hoped that leaders can come to a compromise on the fiscal cliff before its withering blows strike next year. With all these macroeconomic concerns looming, however, it's consumers that boosted the Dow today.
Home improvement retailer Home Depot (NYSE: HD ) reported stellar numbers for its previous quarter, boosting the stock to the top of the Dow with a gain of more than 4%. The company boasted a 23% increase in year-over-year earnings per share and has risen 200% since 2009. With homeowner vacancy at a seven-year low and optimism building in the housing market, Home Depot looks like it could be headed even higher.
Telecoms also had a nice day, with both Verizon (NYSE: VZ ) and rival AT&T (NYSE: T ) recording gains of almost 1%. AT&T has pushed to expand its LTE wireless network hard recently, and both companies are gaining on the trend of faster phones rapidly entering the market.
The day's big losers
There's plenty of red to go around today, however. Tech stocks have been hammered so far, with Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT ) leading all Dow laggards downward with losses of more than 3%. Windows president Steven Sinofsky is departing the company -- a heavy blow for Microsoft that has brought up speculation of internal divisiveness. With the company's recent launch of Windows 8, investors have to wonder how this shake-up will affect future Windows launches.
Today's tech failure brought other competitors in the sphere down: Both Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ ) and Intel (Nasdaq: INTC ) have fallen more than 1.3%. Barclays Capital reported that mobile devices have continued to weaken the PC market, projecting that PC sales will decline 3% for this year. With both HP and Intel heavily involved in this lagging industry, it's questionable how long both companies can continue to stand by while the PC market spirals.
Today's losses are just another pothole in what has been a frustrating path for Microsoft investors, who have watched the company fail to capitalize on the incredible growth in mobile over the past decade. However, with the release of its own tablet, along with the Windows 8 operating system, the company is looking to make a splash in this booming market. In this brand-new premium report on Microsoft, our analyst explains that while the opportunity is huge, the challenges are many. He's also providing regular updates as key events occur, so be sure to claim a copy of this report now by clicking here.