Today's Dow Is Ignoring the Fiscal Cliff

It's another day of nice gains for the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) . With just four stocks in the red today, the index currently sits up 50 points, or 0.4%, as of 2:15 p.m. EST. While one sector in particular is keeping the Dow from hitting a higher note on the day, shares of numerous Dow members have exceeded gains of 1%, and even congressional talk over the fiscal cliff couldn't keep the markets down.

No progress, no problem
The Dow temporarily wiped out early morning gains after House Speaker John Boehner said "no substantive progress" had been made on a deal to solve the fiscal cliff. With just one month to go before the combination of harsh spending cuts and tax increases is set to strike in January, many companies have nervously prepared for the worst.

Despite that melancholy note, the index has still managed to pick up nearly all its gains in the afternoon session. Take the industrials sector: While companies here have arguably the most to lose from the fiscal cliff's projected hit to the economy, the sector's biggest name is doing just fine today. Shares of Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT  ) have picked up 1.7% as the industrial giant ranks among the top Dow leaders.

Financials have also had a good day, going against the grain just like Caterpillar. Among big banks, Bank of America (NYSE: BAC  ) and JPMorgan Chase  (NYSE: JPM  ) have posted respectable gains of 0.8% and 1%, respectively. It's the latest in gains for BofA, which has had a terrific 2012 so far; the stock's year-to-date rise is now over 68%.

One big negative
Keeping today's Dow down is Intel (NASDAQ: INTC  ) . As the most expensive stock on the price-weighted index, Intel has the biggest say over the Dow's daily direction -- and today's results aren't good, with shares of the chip maker down 2.1% to lead all Dow laggards. The company's had to deal with the decline of the PC market, where it dominates, in addition to the resignation of its CEO, effective next May. Whoever steps into the role of leadership at Intel will have their work cut out for them adapting to the mobile revolution thriving in the tech sector.

Speaking of the tech sector, many of Intel's fellow players aren't doing much better. Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT  ) and IBM (NYSE: IBM  ) rank among the worst Dow laggards, down 0.4% and 1.3%, respectively. Earlier today, Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL  ) had its iPhone 5 receive regulatory approval in China. Microsoft is trying to establish itself in the mobile game, but getting past Apple seems unthinkable right now -- and the latest news is just another strike to Microsoft's hopes.

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.


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