Microsoft and Visa Pull Dow in Opposite Direction

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) is having a pretty slow Friday, lacking economic or earnings news that often roil markets day to day. However, two significant movers are pulling the index in opposite directions today.

Microsoft's CEO search continues
Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT  ) is the Dow's laggard today, dropping 1.13% at 3:25 p.m. EST. There were rumors that Qualcomm COO Steve Mollenkopf had become a top candidate to replace Steve Ballmer as CEO, but Qualcomm put the kibosh on that talk by naming him its own next CEO.  

The search continues for Microsoft as two top picks, Mollenkopf and Ford CEO Alan Mulally, appear out of the running. I'm not sure if either would have been the best CEO in Redmond, or if the board is actually honing in on someone else, but the longer the search takes the more uncertainty there is for Microsoft. One of a CEO's key roles is setting strategy and at this key juncture for Microsoft a vision beyond Ballmer's is needed at the top.

Visa's settlement approved
On the other end of the Dow is Visa (NYSE: V  ) , which is up 2.17% today. Visa and MasterCard (NYSE: MA  ) received a judge's approval for their $7.25 billion settlement over a class action suit from merchants over transaction fees. The damages will likely be closer to $5.7 billion after roughly 8,000 merchants dropped out of the damages portion of the agreement.  

This unloads a small cloud over Visa and MasterCard and also limits potential future lawsuits. It's extremely difficult to prove collusion in pricing, and even after years of litigation this settlement won't do a lot of damage to either company. Long term, I think both are great options for investors, simply because merchants have little to no power against the credit card networks they've created.

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