Dow Waffles as Tech Sector Gains Momentum

After spending most of its time in negative territory yesterday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) made a late rally, ending the day up 48 points. So far this morning, the index has been up and down, trading 10 points higher as of 11 a.m. EDT. Economic news hasn't helped the index so far this morning, as three reports showed little positive growth.

First up was the NFIB Small Business Optimism Index, which fell 1.3 points from Februrary's results to 89.5. The survey of small business owners found that very few felt as if the current environment presented a good time to expand, another jab to the recovery. March's results put the end to a three-month streak of gaining optimism, with 75% of business owners expecting conditions to be roughly the same in the next six months. This isn't a good sign for the drooping labor market, as small businesses won't hire if the conditions aren't right.

Speaking of hiring, the number of job openings rose in February to 3.9 million from January's 3.6 million -- this is the highest number of job openings since May 2008 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Despite the openings hike, hiring and firing remained at the same levels as seen in the previous month.

Last up was wholesale inventories data, which fell unexpectedly in February as petroleum stocks fell and overall sales gained strength. The drop of 0.3% was the largest recorded in a year and a half, according to the Commerce Department. Economists had expected a 0.5% increase after the revised 0.8% jump in January.

Tech leads the way
The standout sector so far this morning in Dow trading has been the techies. Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT  ) is one of the stocks leading the way, with a 1.75% gain. Microsoft is also leading a group of 16 other companies in a EU complaint against Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL  ) , claiming that the competitor is giving away its Android OS to smartphone manufacturers, as long as its software applications such as Google Maps are installed and at the forefront of the phone's display. The group filing the antitrust complaint believes that such action corners customers into using Google products, which not only controls customer data, but also dominates the mobile market. The European Commission, the EU's antitrust authority, is not required to do any more than reply to the group's complaint, though Google is already under scrutiny in Brussels and other countries for various reasons.

Intel (NASDAQ: INTC  ) is also up this morning, with a 1.94% gain. The tech giant is riding the exciting news that its next-generation Thunderbolt will provide double the speed of its current form. Set to begin production in 2014, the new Thunderbolt will allow 4K video transfer with simultaneous display in addition to running at 20 Gbps -- the current version runs at 10 Gbps. Intel is also enjoying its head start on competitor ARM (NASDAQ: ARMH  ) , with its new Avoton -- a "system-on-chip" for server customers. Intel has just announced that it has shipped out some samples of its latest Avoton chips to customers, with commercial availability coming later in the year. This is a huge win, since ARM's product isn't slated to be available until 2014.

When it comes to dominating markets, it doesn't get much better than Intel's position in the PC microprocessor arena. However, that market is maturing, and Intel finds itself in a precarious situation longer term if it doesn't find new avenues for growth. In this premium research report on Intel, our analyst runs through all of the key topics investors should understand about the chip giant. Click here now to learn more.


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