U.S. Stock Markets Jump Ahead of Fed Meeting

The Federal Reserve hasn't even started its two-day policy meeting, and traders are already bidding up stocks on speculation that the central bank's easy-money policies will continue. Outside that, the only major data point for investors today was a National Association of Home Builders' sentiment reading, which jumped to 52 from 44 a month ago to reach a seven-year high. A reading of more than 50 indicates that the majority of builders see conditions as good. That's a strong indication for both the economy and the labor market, which is dependent on construction.  

Add all of the data and speculation together, and you have the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) up 0.39% and the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC  ) rising 0.35%.

Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO  ) is the leader on the Dow today, climbing 2.2%. Today the company showcased its "Internet of Everything" proof of concept in Nice, France. The "Connected Boulevard" offers the city and residents contextual information about parking, traffic, street lighting, and the environment in real time. The concept could be the future of the connected city, allowing the city to adapt to inputs like traffic and parking on a real-time basis, which Cisco estimates could reduce traffic congestion by 30%. Could this be one the next growth avenues for Cisco?  

Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT  ) is up 1.2% after announcing the launch of a Windows app for the iPhone. Office 365 users can add the Office suite to five Windows or Mac devices, although that doesn't include the iPad, where people would use the software even more. It's good that Microsoft is opening up Office to other devices, but keeping it off the iPad is concerning, given the massive installed base the device has. At the very least, Microsoft is becoming more mobile-friendly -- a necessity as PCs slowly die off. 

With the release of its own tablet, mobile software, and its Windows 8 operating system, Microsoft has been trying to make a splash in the booming mobile market. In a new premium report on Microsoft, a Motley Fool analyst explains that while the opportunity is huge, so are the challenges. The report includes regular updates as key events occur, so be sure to claim a copy of this report now by clicking here.

Verizon (NYSE: VZ  ) is down 1.1%, making it the biggest Dow laggard today. There are reports today that the company is interested in buying into the Canadian wireless market, which would please the government's desire for a fourth major carrier. Recent entrants into the market have struggled financially, and Canada is a sprawling space with a relatively small population, which is problematic for wireless providers. In the long term, Verizon is a great value, but I don't think Canada is a market investors should covet right now.  


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