Subsiding Syria Fears Sink Oil and Boosts Stocks

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.

Stocks jumped sharply today after a Senate hearing about Syria revealed that Congress might only approve limited strikes. There are a number of options still floating about the halls of Congress, but it appears that the rules will allow for a 60-day strike period, with a possible 30-day extension, and no ground troops. That's no big surprise, given the resistance of Congress to approve any force, but it's far less than a blank check, and so far markets like that news.

Another consequence of the Senate hearing was that gold dropped 1.6% and oil fell 1.3%, because both commodities had surged higher as the prospect of military action loomed larger. Both moves have helped fuel a 0.79% gain for the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) and a 0.92% pop in the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC  ) late in trading.

Intel (NASDAQ: INTC  ) is leading the charge on the Dow today, rising 2.7%. The company began shipping new data-center chips that it says perform six times better than their predecessors. The chips are meant for microservers and could be a big win in the expansion of cloud services. Intel also reportedly has its Haswell chip in Microsoft's (NASDAQ: MSFT  ) new Surface Pro 2, which is a small win for Intel, even if the product has been a flop for Microsoft.  

Speaking of Microsoft, the sell-off continues today, with Mr. Softy shares falling 2.2% today. The stock was downgraded by Morgan Stanley, continuing a slide that started when the company bought Nokia's handset business. The Morgan Stanley analyst cited integration risk and the likelihood that the market won't give Microsoft much credit even if the handset strategy is executed well. With that said, the analyst also said this "likely represents the best strategy for long-term success."  

That long-term thinking is what sets Foolish investors apart from traders, and that's how we should look at the Microsoft-Nokia deal. If Microsoft can increase its smartphone and tablet share from its current 5%, this will be a huge success, so buy now if you think the strategy will work. I, for one, think it's a good move for Microsoft, which will still be highly profitable even if the Nokia deal is a flop.

Microsoft now has the scale to compete in a growing mobile market, but will it be a dominant player? Our analysts uncover answers in "Who Will Win the War Between the 5 Biggest Tech Stocks?" Inside, you'll find out which companies are set to dominate, and we'll give in-the-know investors an edge. To grab a copy of this report, simply click here -- it's free!


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