The other half of the popular "Sell in May" axiom is to buy stocks back in November. Yet that's been a lousy strategy so far this month, as the Dow Jones Industrials (DJINDICES:^DJI) are down well over 4% so far in November and off more than 1,000 points from their mid-October highs. Moreover, even if you think stocks are bound to recover eventually, the fact that the Dow is still up 300 points for the year puts the recent downturn into perspective and shows that stocks could have further to fall if the negative factors affecting the markets don't go away soon.

Yet although the Dow is down about 34 points as of 1:20 p.m. EST, about a dozen Dow components managed to gain ground on the day. Leading the way was Cisco Systems (NASDAQ:CSCO), climbing another 2% following a strong earnings report yesterday. The company said it would buy cloud-software company Cloupia for $125 million, but what's really leading the stock higher is the fact that rival NetApp (NASDAQ:NTAP) posted strong quarterly earnings. That supports the case that the entire industry really may be on a clearer road to recovery, reassuring those who may have worried that Cisco's results were an anomaly.

Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) climbed 1.6% as the bank reached the halfway point in providing $7.6 billion in relief efforts to mortgage borrowers who owe more than their homes are worth. Putting the financial crisis behind it is a key step for B of A in its efforts to move forward and regain its reputation for stability and profitability in a new economic environment for financial stocks.

Finally, Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) rose almost 1%. Despite the short-term gain, the long-term picture for Intel remains cloudier than ever due to mixed results from the new Windows 8 operating system. With Intel's core PC market relying largely on Windows-driven machines, slow sales of the operating system could spell trouble for Intel as well.

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.