Lately, investors have been holding their breath trying to figure out what the Federal Reserve will do with its monetary-policy moves, especially the bond-buying quantitative easing program. Today's release of the June minutes of the Federal Open Market Committee meeting didn't really provide any concrete answers, though, as economic data remain open to different interpretations. In the end, investors won't be able to predict what the Fed will do before it takes action, and the nine-point drop in the Dow Jones Industrials (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) seems to confirm that investors are looking beyond the immediate future and understanding the inevitability that at some point, quantitative easing will end.
But the Dow had some big movers on this quiet day, with three of its technology giants gaining 1% or more. Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ ) led the Dow with a 1.8% gain after getting a favorable analyst upgrade. Yet this afternoon, Gartner reported a nearly 11% decline in worldwide PC shipments during the second quarter, further highlighting the steady erosion of what has been a traditional area of strength for HP. Lenovo recaptured the top spot in PC shipments from HP, but HP remains relatively strong in the U.S., Latin America, and the European/Middle Eastern/African market. The report doesn't change anything about HP's strategy though: it needs to move forward with initiatives to develop its non-PC businesses faster.
Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT ) picked up 1% after announcing its CityNext program to help cities take advantage of their human capital and other resources to foster innovation. But the real news might come tomorrow, when many expect the company to provide more guidance about a possible restructuring. Watching Microsoft's corporate moves could shed some light on which areas the company sees as being highest priority in the years to come, as well as potentially creating a list of possible successors to CEO Steve Ballmer.
Finally, Cisco Systems (NASDAQ: CSCO ) climbed 1%. The company has done a good job of increasing its presence in the cloud-computing space, with Cisco having been cited by an analyst firm as hurting the prospects of cloud rival VMware (NYSE: VMW ) . As tech giants across the industry break out of their traditional niches and all chase after the same high-growth areas, such confrontations will become more commonplace, and it'll be essential for Cisco to use its size and financial strength to make the most of the opportunities it has.
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