Stock markets got back in black today after a three-day losing streak. A 0.6% rise in retail sales last month and a relatively low 334,000 new initial jobless claims had investors back in a good mood. At 3:25 p.m. EDT the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) was up 1%, while the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC ) had gained 1.2%.
Intel (NASDAQ: INTC ) continues to be one of the Dow's leaders, gaining 1.9% today. The company's chips have been designed into the new Samsung Galaxy Tab 3, and Intel is expanding in the convertibles market as well. The big rumor this week surrounded Intel's efforts to disrupt the television market by distributing TV over the Internet. Intel is one of many companies working on streaming TV, but it appears willing to pay a premium for content, and it may be willing to dig in against the entrenched cable industry. If the company can break the hold, this is a huge opportunity for Intel and investors.
Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT ) is up 2.3% a day after announcing a 15% boost to its quarterly dividend. Investors will now be paid a dividend of $0.60 per quarter, with the first installment going to shareholders of record on July 22. Dividends are one of the best ways for companies to provide a return for investors, and an increase like this is an indication that management is confident about the future of the company.
On the down side, Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT ) stock is down 0.8% today despite announcing new stores within stores at Best Buy. The deal will include 500 specialty stores that will sell Windows-based products, including tablets and computers. This isn't dissimilar to what Samsung announced earlier this year and what Apple already has in place at Best Buy stores. Microsoft seeks to have the same in-store product expertise at one of the biggest electronics retailers in the world. Only time will tell if the partnership will pay dividends for Microsoft shareholders.
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