If you want to see just how much the fiscal cliff has taken over the discussion on Wall Street, then you can just look at today's chart. Stocks opened higher when third-quarter GDP was revised up from 2% growth to 2.7%, a very good sign for the economy. But when House Speaker John Boehner said that there was "no substantive progress" on the fiscal cliff stocks tumbled to negative territory. Sanity returned shortly after, and near the end of trading we've recovered most of the lost ground: The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI ) is up 0.35% while the S&P 500 (INDEX: ^GSPC ) has gained 0.50%.
Intel (Nasdaq: INTC ) and Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT ) led the declines today, falling 2.1% and 1.2% respectively. NPD Group, a retail research firm, said that Windows-powered PC sales were down 21% last month when Windows 8 debuted. Laptop sales fell 24% and desktop sales fell 9%, a disappointing figure for investors looking for a bump in PC sales. The only bright side was that 6% of Windows laptop sales were touchscreen devices, a new addition to the Windows lineup.
It's been a frustrating path for Microsoft investors, who've 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 widely anticipated 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 make sure to claim a copy of this report now by clicking here.
UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH ) gained 2.6% to lead the Dow today. There wasn't any big news out about the company but investors are clearly more comfortable that the Affordable Care Act won't be a huge hindrance to profits in coming years. About 9 million people are expected to enroll in exchange plans in 2014 with the number topping 26 million by 2018. More customers should be good for insurers.