The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) may be taking a breather from its comeback session yesterday, losing most of its early 27-point gain within the first hour of trading. Even with the upward trajectory of Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) this morning, the Dow has stayed mostly in the red, though it is beginning to show signs of life mid-morning.

The big news of the day is sending Microsoft's stock through the roof: CEO Steve Ballmer has announced his plan to retire within the next 12 months. Investors are obviously delighted with this news, and Microsoft's stock has gained well over 7%.

There is a little intrigue around this announcement, as well -- Ballmer had previously said that he would not retire until sometime around 2017 or 2018. In his email to employees, Ballmer said that he felt Microsoft needed a CEO for the "longer term," and that he was leaving "in the best interests of the company I love."

Though no other stock in the Dow can match the moves from Microsoft, giant semiconductor chip maker Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) has risen over 1% so far today. Earlier this week, the company announced a bunch of new product launches in the last quarter of this year and into 2014, including two new tablet platforms and a new smartphone.

Speaking of tech giants, Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) is continuing to sink today, as its sub-par earnings report and doomsday predictions regarding growth for the coming year set the stage for a continuing downward spiral.

On the housing front, the government released new home sales numbers for July in which the seasonally adjusted annual rate was determined to be just 394,000, coming in well under the forecasted 475,000, or the 485,000 that the market was expecting.

Fool contributor Amanda Alix has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Intel. The Motley Fool owns shares of Intel and Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.