Evening Dow Report: Tech Sends Stocks Soaring; Boeing Lags Behind

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 performance of the Dow Jones Industrials (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) so far in 2014 hasn't inspired much confidence among investors, especially in contrast to the huge gains that the average posted in 2013. Yet today's big gains of almost 116 points for the Dow on the back of solid gains in retail sales and a lack of big surprises in banking stocks' earnings reports helped give investors some of their positive sentiment back, with Intel (NASDAQ: INTC  ) and Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT  ) helping to lead the way higher for the market even as Boeing (NYSE: BA  ) was among the few declining stocks Tuesday.

Interestingly, the moves for Intel and Microsoft came despite disagreement among the analyst community about their future prospects. On one hand, Intel got two upgrades today, lifting shares by 4% as bullish investors pointed to the company's high-quality production facilities and its recent forays into the mobile-chip market as likely bearing more fruit during 2014. On the other hand, Microsoft gained 2.3% despite getting downgraded by analysts at Citigroup, who argued that the greater likelihood that a new CEO will come from within the tech giant's own ranks warranted a sell-off after the stock's substantial increase recently.

But it's also important to put the moves into greater context among tech stocks more broadly. The Nasdaq Composite climbed into positive territory for 2014, with gains not just in Intel and Microsoft but also Internet search giant Google and iDevice maker Apple lifting the broader tech index. With many looking at tech stocks as being less vulnerable to higher interest rates -- especially given their massive cash hoards -- it's not surprising to see the Dow's tech contingent leading the way higher.

Meanwhile, Boeing's drop of 0.5% came on news that Japan Airlines suffered yet another battery problem associated with a 787 Dreamliner aircraft. The incident occurred with no passengers on board, but signs of battery leakage and white smoke suggest that Boeing's efforts last year to fix known battery problems might not have eliminated the problem entirely. For now, most industry experts seem reluctant to draw broader conclusions, but it seems likely that Boeing will have to look more deeply into underlying causes of the problem before it can declare the battery issue solved once and for all.

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