Microsoft, Google, and Zynga Defy Dow Jones' Decline

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) was down yet again on Friday, falling more than 100 points as of 11:30 a.m. EST. Dow Jones component Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT  ) , however, was up a modest 0.46% on the session. Shares of Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL  ) and Zynga (NASDAQ: ZNGA  ) were also posting solid gains.

Consumer sentiment beats estimates
The University of Michigan/Thomson Reuters consumer confidence data indicated that U.S. consumers were feeling more confident in January than economists anticipated -- a reading of 81.2 beat an 81 estimate, but was down from December's 82.5. That beat on expectations should be seen as a positive, as consumers seem more optimistic about their finances, but the market didn't seem to be listening.

The sell-off on Friday appears to have been prompted by more trouble in emerging markets -- currencies, including the South African rand and Turkish lira, continue to drop despite the efforts of their central banks to reverse the slide.

Looks like Nadella is the new boss at Microsoft
Microsoft's market outperformance today may have been prompted by investors reacting to the company's apparent next CEO.

Yesterday, I noted a Re/code report that Satya Nadella, the head of Microsoft's enterprise cloud efforts, was going to replace Steve Ballmer as CEO. That report has been corroborated by other outlets, including Bloomberg, which also reported that co-founder Bill Gates could resign from his role as Microsoft chairman.

Google profits up in the fourth quarter
Shares of search giant Google added 3.75% in early trading. Google reported earnings Thursday afternoon, and its revenue came in better than analysts had anticipated.

Yet its profit came in below expectations; still, investors may have been reacting to a number of positive trends, including an increase in paid clicks, a stronger Android ecosystem, and a growing number of Chromebook sales.

Zynga acquires mobile game-maker
Meanwhile, Zynga shares were up almost 16% early on Friday following its earnings report. Zynga reported a loss of $0.03 per share on revenue of $175 million. But more important was the announcement that it was cutting 15% of its workforce and acquiring mobile game studio NaturalMotion.

A number of analysts, including those at Evercore Partners, Barclays and Piper Jaffray reacted positively to the news, with all three increasing their price targets on the stock.

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