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Dow Jumps on Microsoft's Apple News; Cisco, Boeing Fall

By Dan Caplinger – Mar 18, 2014 at 11:00AM

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Benign economic reports and a stable geopolitical situation made investors optimistic about the stock market's future. Find out why Microsoft is climbing while Cisco and Boeing post modest declines.

On Tuesday morning, the stock market continued to build on Monday's gains, with the Dow Jones Industrials (^DJI 0.76%) rising nearly 80 points as of 11 a.m. EDT. Rising signs of a housing recovery came from a jump in building permits for new homes and multifamily residential projects, and inflation remains well in check. Microsoft (MSFT 1.61%) led the Dow's gainers with a rise of about 4%, while Cisco Systems (CSCO 0.75%) and Boeing (BA 1.26%) were among the few Dow stocks to fall in early trading.

Microsoft's jump came on reports that the tech giant expects to release a version of its popular Office software for Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL) iPad. Given the amount of tension between Apple and Microsoft over the years, Microsoft's admission that it needs better access to Apple customers is somewhat ironic. Yet even though some question how useful Office products will be on a tablet, investors are broadly cheering the move as part of Microsoft's broader initiative to move toward cloud-based mobile technology over its more traditional desktop systems.

Meanwhile, Cisco's led the Dow's decliners with nearly a 0.7% drop. Even as many other tech companies got favorable looks from analysts today, Cisco suffered a downgrade from Barclays, which argued that a combination of tough conditions in the industry and some company-specific sales obstacles could continue to weigh on the long-struggling network giant. Thus far, Cisco hasn't been able to demonstrate its ability to compete effectively against its tech peers; the company is seeing erosion in its core networking business and failing to take maximum advantage of opportunities in cloud computing and other high-growth areas.

Finally, Boeing fell about half a percent. The aerospace giant announced yesterday that it had started its project to more than double the amount of space dedicated to 737 production in order to ramp up delivery rates. That should have given some reassurance to investors who worry that the company's huge backlog could decay if Boeing can't deliver planes quickly enough. Yet the fact that Boeing is having to make this key move shows the challenges it faces in making the most of its huge opportunity. Given the stock rise lately, anything short of full success could leave Boeing shareholders disappointed.

Dan Caplinger owns shares of Apple. The Motley Fool recommends Apple and Cisco Systems. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple and Microsoft. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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