Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over daily movements, we do like to keep an eye on market changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.
The Federal Reserve's "Beige Book," an anecdotal economic report that takes a region-by-region pulse of the economy, revealed encouraging signs of growth across the country today. The stereotypically generic language of the central bank's report actually only described "modest to moderate" expansion, but widespread gains in consumer spending and home prices were good enough to send a ripple of excitement through Wall Street. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI) added 96 points, or 0.7%, to end at 14,930.
As far as Dow stocks go, Intel (NASDAQ: INTC) stole the show, gaining 2.6% after unveiling the Atom C2000 family of chips, aimed toward capturing a portion of the burgeoning cloud computer and data center market. Positioned specifically for the "microserver" market, Intel is seeking to establish itself early as the de facto leader in the new technological space.
Verizon Communications (NYSE: VZ) shares joined Intel's atop the Dow, adding 1.7% and bouncing back quickly after yesterday's nearly 3% slide. Late Monday's news that the company would be buying back the entirety of Vodafone's 45% stake in its wireless division was great news for Verizon's business, but mixed news for shareholders, who will see dilution as the company issues more shares to finance the $130 billion deal. The market shrugged off those concerns today, too enamored with the company's strengthened position in the oligopolistic world of U.S. telecom carriers.
IBM (NYSE: IBM) fell only slightly Wednesday, losing 0.4% on weak volume. Although Big Blue trades near 52-week lows, the $200 billion business is as far away from fiscal trouble as it's ever been. The tech mainstay certainly won't be doubling sales anytime soon -- the company brings in about $100 billion a year -- but it's been able to squeeze out double-digit earnings-per-share growth for the past four years. The stock almost seems ripe for the picking right now if you're a value investor. (No wonder Warren Buffett owns it!)
Lastly, Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) lost 2.1%, as shares continued to take a beating after the company's $7.2 billion Nokia purchase. It seems like almost every day there's some breaking news for the Microsoft investor to digest and interpret -- from CEO Steve Ballmer's retirement plans to yesterday's Nokia acquisition to Samsung's entry into the smartwatch market today, the flurry of changes in the marketplace makes Microsoft especially difficult to value.
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