Trading sessions like today's highlight what a drag Europe has had on domestic markets. Seemingly every time "apocalypse euro" news hits a pause, stocks soar. Today investors were treated to improving housing data, but the real enthusiasm is coming from a two-day Federal Reserve meeting that began this morning. The market is desperately seeking a new round of stimulus from Bernanke & Co., so while the VIX (NYSE: ^VIX) is down again today, expect volatility to return once the meeting concludes tomorrow. Meanwhile financials like Bank of America (NYSE: BAC), which is up 5%, are soaring on the potential extension of Operation Twist.

That said, let's take a closer look at how the three major indexes are faring.



Gain/Loss %

Intraday Value

Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI) 145.05 1.14% 12,886.87
Nasdaq 41.84 1.45% 2,937.17
S&P 500 17.21 1.28% 1,361.99

Source: Yahoo! Finance.

The major U.S. indexes are all turning in strong 1%-plus gains, with the Nasdaq leading the charge. Tech stocks are performing well today, and the biggest news in the sector comes from Dow component Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT). The company unveiled its Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) iPad-challenging tablet, dubbed Surface, with much acclaim.

Pricing for the Surface has yet to be announced, but it will run Windows 8 with live tiles and has an innovative keyboard integrated into the cover and a "kickstand" in the back, which Microsoft compared favorably to a luxury car door. Microsoft boldly becomes a direct competitor to partners like Hewlett-Packard and other flailing tablet makers, but considering no one else has seriously challenged Apple's dominance of the space, combined with Microsoft's own failure in licensing out its operating system to smartphone makers, the decision isn't shocking. On the surface (pun intended) and after revealing a tablet well ahead of the competition, it appears to be justified.

While it'll take time to see if Surface is a real threat to the iPad, Microsoft appears to be on the right track. Should Apple investors be concerned? Stay up to date with our exclusive and timely premium research reports on Apple right here.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.