Dow Week in Review: 3 Things You Must Know

The Dow Jones Industrials (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) had a solid week, climbing 115 points or about 0.7%. Although the Dow failed to hit a new record like the broader-market peer S&P 500 index, it nevertheless reflected the overall positive sentiment that investors have in the U.S. stock market right now, especially as economic conditions appear to be improving on a consistent basis. Let's take a closer look at the stocks that helped move the Dow this week, including Home Depot (NYSE: HD  ) , Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT  ) , and Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS  ) .


Source: Home Depot.

Home Depot climbed 2.4% as the home-improvement retailer closed out the Dow's first-quarter earnings season with its quarterly report. By some accounts, Home Depot's results were relatively weak, with revenue falling short of investor expectations by growing just 2.9%, on same-store sales gains of 2.6%. But earnings per share jumped more than 20% as profit margins expanded, and Home Depot raised its guidance for the full year by about 1%. Investors also got to see a lot of data on the housing market's condition this week, and although the news wasn't unambiguously positive, there were encouraging signs that the health of housing could continue to lift Home Depot and other stocks that rely on the industry for their financial success.

Source: Microsoft.

Microsoft matched the gain in the Dow Jones Industrials, rising 0.7%. Microsoft released its Surface Pro 3 this week, the latest attempt from the tech giant to offer a tablet device with full computing capabilities that could fill the same function as a laptop. The Surface Pro 3 faces an uphill battle, though, in that it's somewhat more expensive than most tablets that don't have the same set of features. Moreover, even to the extent that it might take the place of a laptop, the Surface Pro 3 could lead some of Microsoft's third-party hardware partners to abandon Windows in favor of other operating systems, citing what amounts to competition from Microsoft's own hardware. Microsoft needs to demonstrate the demand for these devices, or else it'll suffer the same hardware failures it has seen in past attempts.

Goldman Sachs jumped 2.4% as the investment bank signaled its intent to stay in the commodity-trading business. Although Goldman Sachs did say that it would sell off Metro International Trade Services, its metal warehouse business, the move appears to be limited to just that small segment of its overall commodities-related operations. Given that Goldman's peers have moved to divest themselves entirely of their full commodity-trading businesses, this more modest move shows the importance that Goldman puts on its overall commodity operations. That sets Goldman up for a possible confrontation with the Fed and other regulators, but it remains to be seen if the bank will eventually back down.

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