The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) was rallying early on Wednesday, adding more than 47 points as of 11:27 a.m. EST. Dow component Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT ) , however, was underperforming, while shares of LinkedIn (NYSE: LNKD ) and Gogo (NASDAQ: GOGO ) were selling off.
All eyes on the Fed
Although stocks were broadly higher early on Wednesday, that could change in a hurry come 2 p.m. EST. At that time, the Federal Open Market Committee will release its statement. The Federal Reserve is currently providing support to the economy and the stock market via a $85 billion per month bond-buying program. Some economists expect the Fed will reduce this program, as the economy has shown signs of strengthening in recent weeks.
But not all economists agree. If the Fed leaves its program unchanged, stocks could stay elevated or even soar. Regardless, the market could be volatile later this afternoon.
How long will it take Microsoft to replace Ballmer?
Microsoft shares were underperforming the Dow Jones, down more than 1% early on Wednesday. The Wall Street Journal published a piece making light of the company's ongoing struggle to find a replacement CEO for Steve Ballmer. In just the past few weeks, former front-runners, including Ford CEO Alan Mulally and Qualcomm COO Steve Mollenkopf, have seemingly been removed from contention.
Some investors may have been hoping that Microsoft would name Ballmer's successor before the end of the year, but that won't happen. As long as Ballmer hangs around as a lame-duck CEO, the company's performance could suffer. AllThingsD's Kara Swisher reported that employees are waiting for a change, unsure of what direction the next CEO will take.
LinkedIn stumbling as social stocks fall
Still, the beating Microsoft shareholders were taking on Wednesday didn't compare to the sell-off that sent shares of LinkedIn down more than 5%. Other social media stocks, including Facebook and Twitter, also came under selling pressure, but LinkedIn was the hardest hit.
There was seemingly no news to explain why LinkedIn was under pressure. But volatility is nothing new for LinkedIn shareholders -- the stock is a high-valued highflier. Year to date, shares of LinkedIn have rallied well more than 80%, as its price-to-earnings ratio has broken above 700.
Gogo hit by private equity move
Like LinkedIn, Gogo is another high-flying tech stock, and like LinkedIn, shares were selling off on Wednesday. But this move was easily understood: Private equity firm Ripplewood Holdings divested its shares to its partners, and three Gogo directors affiliated with Ripplewood resigned from the in-flight Internet provider's board. Altogether, Ripplewood partners own about one-third of the company, and though they may continue to hold their shares, the decision to divest them suggests they could start selling them in the open market soon.
Perhaps in anticipation of the sale, shares of Gogo dropped more than 11% on Wednesday. Even with the sell-off, Gogo stock is up more than 71% since it started trading in June.
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