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The market got a helping hand from Europe -- of all places -- today, while positive news on the domestic front combined to send stocks higher. The European Central Bank's decision to cut rates to historic lows in just a few days put equities on firmer ground, coupled with rising consumer spending and a jump in real estate sales. When all was said and done, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) ended up 106 points, or 0.7%, at 14,818.
But as much as those macroeconomic developments were responsible for the rise of the blue chips, it was tech stocks that really lifted the index. Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ ) was one notable beneficiary of tech's popularity surge Monday, adding 2.6%. Since HP has seen its stock slip at the expense of a move to tablets from PCs, today's report showing an uptick in consumer spending doesn't hurt things.
Although also heavily reliant on the declining PC market, Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT ) tacked on 2.6% as well. While Microsoft's Surface tablet has had some trouble gaining traction and its new Windows 8 operating system hasn't blown anybody away, the company is making legitimate progress in the cloud computing landscape. Its Azure business division just crossed the $1 billion annual sales mark, with subscriptions to its service rising nearly 50% in the last six months alone.
The last of the major tech gainers in the Dow today, IBM (NYSE: IBM ) added 2.5%. IBM, which for decades has epitomized traditional business technology, is also embracing the cloud. Today it announced a new offering, IBM SmartCloud, which is a feature aimed at facilitating the flow of information in business through a wide swath of possible devices.
But of course not all Dow components could be outperformers. Boeing (NYSE: BA ) slipped 1%. Some division among its shareholders today on the issue of whether to split the roles of CEO and chairman dragged on the stock, which has rebounded as the company has addressed serious issues with its 787 Dreamliner model.
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