Stocks were sleepy in the first day of trading after the blizzard that rocked the Northeast this weekend. In its lightest volume of the year, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) gave back 22 points, or 0.16%, though the index finished on a relative upswing.
After strong gains in January paced by strong earnings and the avoidance of the fiscal cliff, February has been a more middling month, as concerns about Europe resurface, and the spending cuts from sequestration loom once again, which are due to go into effect by the end of the month without Congressional intervention. As the days until sequestration tick away, stocks will probably have trouble making sizable gains until that problem is solved.
On a day where Dow stocks were roughly split in half between winners and losers, Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) paced the gainers, moving up 1.1%, as its new 128GB Surface Pro tablet sold out within hours of its debut on Saturday. The tablet is Microsoft's priciest, retailing at $1,000, and the Windows-maker said the shortage was caused by higher-than-expected demand. Some analysts suggested the company may have intended to create artificial scarcity for the high-end tablet, since there was no shortage of its 64GB Surface Pro, which sells at $900.
Home Depot (NYSE:HD), which fell nearly 1%, was also making news, as the company announced that it will dump BlackBerry (NYSE:BB) phones for the iPhone. The home-improvement retailer said it would switch out 10,000 BlackBerrys, sending shares of the eponymous company down 4.6%.
Finally, Boeing (NYSE:BA) continued to suffer under the pressure of the battery problem with its 787 Dreamliner jet, which has been grounded because of battery fires. Today, the airplane-maker completed a second flight test to determine the cause of the problem but didn't release information on any discoveries. In a filing, the company said it's too early to estimate the costs it will incur to fix the problem. Boeing has said deliveries of new 787s will be delayed, and Moody's said in a review today that the delays could have a meaningful effect on this year's cash flow.