Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.
The Federal Reserve's "taper" plans are starting to have an impact on data from the housing market. U.S. new home sales fell 13.4% in July to a seasonally adjusted rate of 394,000 as every region posted declines. But that's to be expected as rates rise and investors shrugged off the news, pushing the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) 0.20% higher and the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC ) up 0.30%.
Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT ) is the big winner on the Dow, jumping 7.2% today. CEO Steve Ballmer announced that he'll retire in the next year, something many in the market have been pushing for some time. Ballmer's tenure may not look great judged by the stock's 39% drop since he took over in 2000, but he has tripled revenue and returned $200 billion to shareholders. Remember that he took over just as the tech bubble was popping and Microsoft had a lofty P/E ratio, something it's grown into over the past 13 years to arguably become a value stock. I think this is a positive move for Microsoft, but Ballmer isn't as bad as the excitement on the market indicates today.
Verizon (NYSE: VZ ) is up 1.1% today after announcing a deal to show CBS's television programs on its FiOS TV service. CBS is in a bitter battle with Time Warner that has left its programming off the cable company's roster in New York, Los Angeles, and Dallas, so this is a small win for Verizon. FiOS TV is in direct competition in the all-important New York market, and with football season coming up, antsy sports fans may be willing to switch services to guarantee programming on Sundays.
Competitor AT&T (NYSE: T ) is also up 0.9% today after MacRumors said the company will offer refurbished iPhone 3GS devices for its prepaid GoPhone plans. Refurbished iPhone 4s are already available for $325 so the generation older device is projected to cost much less than $300. Engaged in a surprising battle against T-Mobile's new plans this could be a quiet win for AT&T in mobile.
As much as Microsoft has been beaten up for the drop in PC sales the company has gained significant mobile share over the past year. As one of only a few companies with the scale and technology to dominate the growing mobile market that's still an opportunity for the company, especially if a mobile savvy CEO is chosen. To explore this opportunity we've created a free report called "Who Will Win the War Between the 5 Biggest Tech Stocks?" Inside, you'll find out which companies are set to dominate and give in-the-know investors an edge. To grab a copy of this report, simply click here -- it's free!