The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) had fallen more than 39 points as of 11:30 a.m. EDT. Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) was one of the Dow Jones' worst-performing components, while tech stocks BlackBerry (NYSE:BB) and Adobe Systems (NASDAQ:ADBE) surged to the upside.
Waiting for the FOMC
Although the Dow Jones was experiencing a relatively tepid movement early in the session, volatility could increase later this afternoon. The Federal Open Market Committee is scheduled to release its statement on monetary policy at 2 p.m. EDT, including its decision on the Federal Funds rate.
That rate is very likely to stay near 0%. More interesting is the Fed's statement on future monetary policy actions, particularly its commitment to continued asset purchases. Further winding down of the Fed's bond-buying program could trigger a market sell-off, while additional purchases could send stocks higher.
Microsoft makes the Surface Pro cheaper
Microsoft shares fell nearly 1% early on Wednesday. Even with the move lower, Microsoft has been one of the Dow Jones' best performers this year, rising more than 10% year to date (the index itself is up just better than 1%).
Microsoft on Wednesday cut the price of the Surface Pro 2 tablet by as much as $200 for some models. The Surface Pro 2 now starts at $799, which may make the device more affordable to potential buyers. The price cut also makes sense in light of Microsoft's forthcoming Surface Pro 3 -- that tablet, set to ship later this week, is a significantly improved version of the Surface Pro.
The Surface Pro 3 is much thinner and lighter than the Surface Pro 2, but comes with a larger screen. It also has a better kickstand and a better type cover, making it much easier to use as a laptop replacement.
BlackBerry gets a viable app store
Owners of BlackBerry 10 devices will soon gain access to many more apps. On Wednesday, BlackBerry was up 3.4% after announcing that Amazon.com's app store would be coming to BB10 handsets.
BlackBerry 10 has a built-in app store -- BlackBerry World -- but the most popular mobile apps are missing. Considering that apps are a major part of what set smartphones apart from traditional cell phones, a lack of apps serves as a significant deterrent to BB10 purchases. Amazon's app store doesn't have everything, but with more than 240,000 apps, it is much better than BlackBerry's, and its inclusion might lead some to consider purchasing a BB10 handset.
Adobe rises on earnings
Adobe was one of the best-performing tech stocks on Wednesday, rising more than 7% early in the session.
Adobe's gain appears to be fueled by its quarterly report that featured better than expected earnings and revenue. An earnings per share figure of $0.37 beat a $0.30 estimate, while revenue of $1.1 billion was slightly more than the $1 billion that analysts had anticipated.
Adobe's strong quarter appears to be a byproduct of its successful shift to a cloud distribution model. Rather than sell customers an expensive software package every few years, Adobe now offers its Creative software on a subscription basis.