The Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI)was up modestly in morning trading to post a gain of more than 62 points as of 11:30 a.m. EST. Microsoft (MSFT -2.03%) was rising but still underperforming the blue-chip index, up 0.07%. Other tech companies were experiencing notable shifts, with Trulia (NYSE: TRLA) and Zynga (ZNGA) standing out as two of the more active stocks.
Consumer sentiment beats expectations
The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan consumer sentiment index came in above expectations, with a reading of 81.2 exceeding economists' 80.6 estimate. A better than expected reading is a positive sign for the U.S. economy, and by extension the stock market, as it suggests that consumers are feeling better about the economy -- they may be noticing signs of economic activity picking up, and may be more likely to spend.
That reading may have been partially behind the Dow Jones' rally, although it's difficult to say. Consumer sentiment surveys are major economic releases, but are not the most influential of financial reports.
Trulia shares plunge on disappointing quarter
Trulia shares were down more than 17% in morning trading, following a disappointing earnings report that came in worse than analysts had anticipated.
Last quarter, Trulia lost $11.1 million, far more than the $1.6 million it lost in the same quarter last year. Revenue, however, rose by more than double on a year-over-year basis. The residential real estate website has been a volatile stock since it went public a little more than a year ago; investors have valued it aggressively, so any sign of disappointment is understandably met with heavy selling pressure.
Zynga shares continue to move higher
Zynga has also been a volatile stock, but recently it has been moving to the upside. Shares of the online game company gained another 5.3% early on Friday, despite the lack of any major news.
Earlier this week, Japan's SoftBank disclosed a passive stake in the company, sending shares higher. Now trading near $4.90, investors may be bidding up Zynga in the hope that it will break above the $5 mark. Although it's just a number, $5 is considered psychologically important and can affect a company -- some brokers, for example, won't allow their clients to short a stock trading under $5, and many index and mutual funds won't hold stocks trading below $5 per share.
Windows 8 adoption slower than Windows 7
Microsoft, meanwhile, was down just slightly on the session. On Thursday, the tech giant announced that it had sold 200 million Windows 8 licenses since October 2012. That might seem like an impressive figure, but Microsoft sold 240 million copies of Windows 7 in that operating system's first 12 months.
Windows 8 might be Microsoft's all-tine most controversial operating system, and has been widely criticized. Obviously, it's not doing as well as its predecessor, but it's also clearly not a total failure.