In just two days, Wall Street will be able to breathe easy. That's because Wednesday marks the culmination of the Federal Open Market Committee's two-day summit, which will close with comments from Fed chief Ben Bernanke on how long we can expect the central bank's $85 billion monthly bond-buying stimulus program to last. Markets have been abuzz about the meeting for weeks, and today's gains ahead of the session's beginning come after homebuilder confidence surged to a seven-year high. Led higher largely by technology stocks, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) gained 109 points, or 0.7%, to close at 15,179.
Cisco Systems (NASDAQ: CSCO ) , one of the aforementioned technology stocks, added 2.5% today, ending as the top gainer in the index. The networking systems giant showed off infrastructure in Nice, France, today with ambitious aims. Hundreds of censors hooked up to a main road in the city are detecting traffic, parking, waste disposal, and other patterns, the aim being to analyze the way these things currently work, then subsequently make them more efficient. If the endeavor proves useful, Cisco could be on the forefront of a huge new industry.
Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT ) shares also outperformed, tacking on 1.7% on Monday. The Washington-based software company announced the arrival of Microsoft Office on iPhone devices today, which on the face of it sounds like a big deal. Office, however, won't be offered on the iPad, and only a limited version will be made available to those iPhone users paying $100 a year for an Office 365 account. In short, we could be looking at a very small market.
While technology was one of just two sectors to gain more than 1% today, telecom was the only market category that actually fell. Appropriately, that's where two of today's laggards emerged from. AT&T (NYSE: T ) dropped 0.4% after reports that the wireless carrier was offering to buy a major Spanish telecom company, Telefonica, for $93 billion, a report that was denied by Telefonica.
Acquiring companies often fall when they close an acquisition, and Verizon Communications (NYSE: VZ ) shed 0.7% on rumors that it was also vying for a takeover of its own. Like AT&T, Verizon's ambitions are reportedly international, though a little closer to home than Spain. Canada's Globe and Mail reported that the company has been in talks with investors in Wind Mobile, a recent entrant in the Canadian wireless industry.