What Drove the Dow's Gains Today

Stocks headed into Thanksgiving on a positive note today, as good news from the Middle East as well as the domestic front restored investor confidence. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI  ) rose 48 points, or 0.38%, to close at 12,836. Twenty-four of its 30 components ended the day higher. 

Not only did jobless claims decrease by 41,000 to settle at 410,000 last week, but Israel and Hamas also agreed to a ceasefire today. An escalation of tensions in the Middle East would likely increase the uncertainty in the markets and could instill fears that the U.S. would get pulled into another international military conflict. 

Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ  ) was the Dow's top gainer, adding more than 2.5% a day after it shocked investors with an $8.8 billion writedown because of the ill-fated acquisition of software company Autonomy last year. It fell about 12% yesterday on the news. Chipmaker Intel (Nasdaq: INTC  ) , on the other hand, was the index's worst performer on Wednesday, after falling nearly 4% yesterday. It dropped another 0.7% today, as investors continued to sell on the news that the current CEO will depart in May.

Intel aside, technology stocks had a good day today. Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) was one of the Dow's top gainers, adding more than 1%. Investors are hoping the company's serious entry into the mobile and tablet markets will prove lucrative. Its Windows 8 Phone as well as its Surface tablet only recently went on sale (just in time for the holidays!), and investors will be keeping a close eye on how -- or if -- the devices catch on with consumers.

Facebook (Nasdaq: FB  ) joined the tech rally as well today, jumping more than 5%. Shares have begun to come back since the company's third-quarter earnings report showed greater-than-expected growth in the mobile market, which is an increasingly important part of Facebook's business.

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