Even with retail sales data coming in a bit better than expected, the Dow Jones Industrial Average ( ^DJI ) had lost 72 points as of 11:30 a.m. EDT. Dow Jones component Microsoft ( MSFT -1.97% ) was down 0.3% but still slightly outperforming its index, even as it plans to give away a core product in one large market. Smaller tech stocks magicJack ( CALL ) and Plug Power ( PLUG -8.13% ) moved sharply to the upside, after both companies posted better than expected earnings reports.
Retail sales numbers beat expectations
Data on retail sales suggested that U.S. consumers may be doing better than expected. The Census Bureau said retail sales rose 0.3% last month, slightly more than the 0.2% that economists had anticipated. Core retail sales, a measure that removes automobile sales from the data, also rose 0.3%, again better than the 0.2% estimate.
Although better than expected retail data should be a positive sign for the markets, investors seemed unfazed. With the Dow Jones already trading near its all-time high, marginally positive economic data may not be enough to send stocks higher.
Microsoft will give away Windows Phone in India
According to The Times of India, Microsoft will give away its Windows Phone operating system to Indian smartphone manufacturers, as it struggles to gain market share in the world's second-most populous country. Android, which outside of some patent fees is free to use, remains dominant in India.
Giving away Windows Phone should help Microsoft build its market share, though it runs counter to the company's long-standing business strategy. Historically, Microsoft has always sold its software for a fee.
Plug Power and magicJack report earnings
Shares of Plug Power and magicJack were surging to the upside, respectively up 8.6% and 19.5%, on Thursday, after both companies turned in quarterly earnings reports that beat analysts' expectations. Both stocks are smaller, and historically volatile, making their outsized gains not particularly surprising. Still, double-digit percentage gains are always notable.
Fuel-cell company Plug Power reported earnings of $0.08 a share on revenue of $8 million -- just slightly above analysts' expectations. Plug Power's CEO said the company expects 2014 revenue to come in four times greater than its 2013 revenue. Likewise, digital telephone service magicJack posted earnings of $0.69 on revenue of $38 million, easily beating analysts' expectations of $0.41 per share earnings on $36 million in revenue. Company guidance for the year ahead was also greater than analysts had anticipated.