The Dow Holds Steady as Microsoft Slides, Boeing Soars

On Thursday morning, the Dow Jones Industrials (DJINDICES: ^DJI  )  had risen 25 points as of 11 a.m. EDT as investors paused after yesterday's big rally. On the economic front, first-time claims for unemployment jumped and sales of existing homes rose at a slower pace than most economists had expected. That threw some cold water on Wednesday's pronouncement from the Federal Reserve that it remains on course to withdraw from quantitative easing amid generally improving economic conditions. Within the Dow Jones Industrials, Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT  ) posted the steepest decline today, while Boeing (NYSE: BA  ) was among the top advancers.

Microsoft fell more than 1% as investors continue to assess the likelihood that the tech giant's new Surface Pro 3 will turn around its lackluster performance in the mobile-device space to date. Microsoft is counting on users' familiarity with PC staples such as Windows and Office to draw customers to the Surface Pro 3, which offers a full range of specifications allowing users to customize their machines with different processors. If the Surface Pro 3 can thread the needle to serve both those wanting fairly powerful tablets and those looking for a replacement for bulkier laptop computers, then Microsoft could finally see the success it has long wanted from its mobile-device business. Yet the cost of the Surface Pro 3 could be an obstacle for ordinary tablet customers, with options beginning at $799 pricing the offering from the Dow's largest tech company beyond what you'd pay for many rival tablets, including some running the Windows operating system.

Source: Boeing.

Boeing rose almost 1% after getting an analyst upgrade this morning. The aircraft manufacturer has moved recently to accelerate production of popular aircraft, including its 787 Dreamliner. At the same time, efforts to keep costs in check and the resolution of key issues, including the location of certain production facilities, has helped Boeing give investors more confidence about its future. Given its massive order backlog, the company's biggest task is how to deliver on its current commitments while encouraging a constant flow of new aircraft orders. With Boeing's multitrillion-dollar opportunity in the aerospace industry, shareholders want the Dow Jones Industrials component to keep striving for improvements in order to capture more of the potential profit from strong aircraft demand.

The Dow was arguably due for a break after extreme volatility earlier this week. As discussions about the market's future direction become more heated, investors will need a long-term investing strategy that addresses all contingencies, no matter which way the Dow moves in the short run.

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