The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) spent the early part of the morning in the dumps, after losing nearly 160 points yesterday, but began to perk up by midmorning. Stocks dropped again shortly thereafter, however, and appear to be on a bit of a roller-coaster ride as the Washington standoff continues, and President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner appear to move further apart on fiscal issues.

Early this morning, the Mortgage Bankers Association delivered a trickle of good news on the mortgage front, reporting an uptick in mortgage applications of 1.3% last week, after a decrease of 0.4% for the prior week. A slight decrease in mortgage rates pushed up refinancing demand, with that index gaining 2.5%, its highest level since early August.

The Federal Reserve will take center stage this afternoon, as markets eagerly await the minutes of the Federal Open Market Committee meeting for September. In addition, President Obama is expected to announce the nomination of Janet Yellen as his pick to become the next Chair of the Federal Reserve.

A bumpy ride for Dow companies
As the Dow heads downward again by late morning, three companies are still holding on to their gains. AT&T (NYSE:T) and Verizon are shining, as is technology giant Intel (NASDAQ:INTC).

AT&T, which is up by 2.25% so far, is very close to a sale of its wireless towers to Crown Castle International, a deal which could put $5 billion in the communication company's pockets.

More good news for AT&T also involves Intel, as General Electric (NYSE:GE) pushes forward with its plans to build out the industrial Internet. GE has announced that it will use AT&T's network and cloud to wirelessly connect GE machines all over the world, boosting efficiency and reducing downtime. Partnering with Intel, GE plans to increase the efficiency of machine software upgrades and embed cloud-based interfaces within its GE Predix platform. This ambitious project aims to increase productivity and improve communications for industries such as airlines, railroads, and power plants.

Fool contributor Amanda Alix has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Intel. The Motley Fool owns shares of General Electric Company and Intel. 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.