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Returning from a long Memorial Day weekend, an eager Wall Street bid stocks higher today, with prices buoyed by positive economic data. May's consumer confidence index jumped to 76.2, the highest reading in more than five years. With housing prices also advancing nearly 11% in March from the year before, all signs pointed to an improving economy Tuesday. With Microsoft's (NASDAQ: MSFT ) stock leading the way, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) added 106 points, or 0.7%, to close at 15,409.
Tacking on 2.2%, Microsoft stock rallied after a report from the research group IDC projected nearly 8% declines in PC sales this year. One might think this bodes poorly for the company behind Windows, but with less severe declines projected for next year, PCs haven't been totally written off yet. A partnership with the NFL to deliver unique content to the Xbox One console also enhances the value of Microsoft's new gaming console.
UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH ) added 2.1% today, as health insurers gear up for the implementation of online insurance exchanges stemming from Obamacare in New York and California. UnitedHealth actually won't be one of those initial providers out West, opting to watch California's young system from the sidelines. It's a risk investors applauded Tuesday, figuring the company will learn from other companies' mistakes.
After posting a 4% gain on Friday, Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG ) pulled back 1.3% today. The stock enjoyed a nice boost after shareholders cheered an unexpected CEO switch-up. After running the company for nearly a decade in the early 2000s, A.G. Lafley is back at the helm of the consumer products giant, which has struggled recently in emerging markets.
The biggest blue-chip laggard of the day, however, was AT&T (NYSE: T ) , which tumbled 1.6% as burgeoning competition from Google's entry into the telecom arena attracts more attention. An analyst at Bernstein claimed Google Fiber, which is rolling out in three cities, poses long-term threats to current cable providers. Combine that with a small increase in AT&T's monthly fees, and you can see why the market was underwhelmed with this stock today.