Evening Dow Report: Fifth Day of Declines Sends Microsoft, JPMorgan Chase Plunging as Intel Climbs

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.

For the fifth straight day, the Dow Jones Industrials (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) posted a decline, with the average losing 68 points even after positive GDP data suggested a stronger economy than most economists had expected. Yet, even though much of the gains came from rising inventory levels, investors instead seemed resigned to the idea that the Fed might taper its bond-buying program sooner rather than later. Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT  ) and JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM  ) bore the brunt of the Dow's losses, but Intel (NASDAQ: INTC  ) managed to post a solid gain.

Microsoft fell 2.4% as investors reacted negatively to comments from Ford CEO Alan Mulally that he intends to remain as the automaker's leader through the end of next year, as planned. Investors had hoped that the software giant would poach the renowned turnaround expert to replace outgoing CEO Steve Ballmer, and the prospect of missing out on Mulally left shareholders less excited about alternatives to take over the top-executive role. Whoever leads Microsoft will face a tough road in reorganizing a massive corporate structure, and making the most of different opportunities in the tech world.

JPMorgan Chase also declined 2.4%, with the much-maligned bank taking a hit from a much different angle. After getting hit with an 80 million euro fine yesterday from European Union regulators for alleged collusion in manipulating key interest rates, JPMorgan found out overnight that it was the victim of a cyber attack. The bank warned nearly half a million UCard prepaid-card customers that hackers might have had access to their personal information. Given the increased use of prepaid cards by employers in lieu of paychecks and by government agencies to issue benefits, banks will have to be ever more vigilant to prevent identity theft related to their use.

On the positive side, Intel bucked the prevailing trend and rose more than 2%. The chipmaker has taken criticism for its sluggishness in entering the mobile market, relying instead on decaying sales of PCs to drive its legacy microprocessor business. Increasingly, however, Intel and its rivals are working to go beyond their traditional areas of expertise, and Intel sees some opportunity in designing networking chips that could end up challenging fellow Dow component Cisco Systems and other networking specialists. Even if the PC market continues to decline, Intel could have opportunities elsewhere to rescue itself from obsolescence.

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