These Stocks Nudged the Dow Higher

Today's market action proved that U.S. investors often take a fairly myopic view of the world. Investors woke up to losses in Europe as the resignation of Italy's prime minister stirred up new concerns about the ongoing financial crisis on the Continent. Yet by the time trading began in New York, the emphasis was again on the fiscal-cliff stalemate. The Dow Jones Industrials (INDEX: ^DJI  ) managed to post a 15-point gain to extend its winning streak to four sessions.

Among the Dow's biggest winners were three major technology companies: Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ  ) , Cisco Systems (Nasdaq: CSCO  ) , and Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) . HP rose more than 2.5% on speculation that activist investor and turnaround specialist Carl Icahn may take a position in the company in order to hasten the pace of CEO Meg Whitman's turnaround attempt. Some investors clearly believe the company may be worth more split up than it is in its current form.

Cisco rose more than 2% after a successful analyst day last Friday, which included a fairly optimistic view of future sales, especially in the services and software areas. With a continued commitment to return half of its free cash flow to investors in the form of share buybacks or dividends, Cisco has embraced a mix of growth and income strategies to entice shareholders to stick along for the ride.

Microsoft popped close to 2% as reports surfaced that the company has sold more than 4 million Windows-based mobile phones since October. With so much riding on the recent Windows 8 offering, Microsoft needs every sale it can get to try to build market share and break into the mobile industry more strongly.

Finally, Boeing (NYSE: BA  ) rose more than 1% on news that it got a big order from Turkish Airlines. The buy, which includes 15 777-300 aircraft, is worth about $4.7 billion. The 777 is a much more profitable plane for Boeing than its smaller 737 models, which have been hot sellers throughout 2012.

Get the whole picture
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