Why the Dow Jumped Nearly 100 Points Today

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Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over daily movements, we do like to keep an eye on market changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

The Federal Reserve's "Beige Book," an anecdotal economic report that takes a region-by-region pulse of the economy, revealed encouraging signs of growth across the country today. The stereotypically generic language of the central bank's report actually only described "modest to moderate" expansion, but widespread gains in consumer spending and home prices were good enough to send a ripple of excitement through Wall Street. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 96 points, or 0.7%, to end at 14,930.

As far as Dow stocks go, Intel stole the show, gaining 2.6% after unveiling the Atom C2000 family of chips, aimed toward capturing a portion of the burgeoning cloud computer and data center market. Positioned specifically for the "microserver" market, Intel is seeking to establish itself early as the de facto leader in the new technological space. 

Verizon Communications shares joined Intel's atop the Dow, adding 1.7% and bouncing back quickly after yesterday's nearly 3% slide. Late Monday's news that the company would be buying back the entirety of Vodafone's 45% stake in its wireless division was great news for Verizon's business, but mixed news for shareholders, who will see dilution as the company issues more shares to finance the $130 billion deal. The market shrugged off those concerns today, too enamored with the company's strengthened position in the oligopolistic world of U.S. telecom carriers.

IBM fell only slightly Wednesday, losing 0.4% on weak volume. Although Big Blue trades near 52-week lows, the $200 billion business is as far away from fiscal trouble as it's ever been. The tech mainstay certainly won't be doubling sales anytime soon -- the company brings in about $100 billion a year -- but it's been able to squeeze out double-digit earnings-per-share growth for the past four years. The stock almost seems ripe for the picking right now if you're a value investor. (No wonder Warren Buffett owns it!)

Lastly, Microsoft lost 2.1%, as shares continued to take a beating after the company's $7.2 billion Nokia purchase. It seems like almost every day there's some breaking news for the Microsoft investor to digest and interpret -- from CEO Steve Ballmer's retirement plans to yesterday's Nokia acquisition to Samsung's entry into the smartwatch market today, the flurry of changes in the marketplace makes Microsoft especially difficult to value.

Mobile devices have been an area of tremendous growth in the past few years, and that trend continues to evolve with the introduction of the smartwatch. But while tech giants battle one another for market share in the mobile world, the amount of data we store every year is growing by a mind-boggling 60% annually! To make sense of this trend and pick out a winner, The Motley Fool has compiled a new report called "The Only Stock You Need to Profit From the NEW Technology Revolution." The report highlights a company that has gained 300% since first recommended by Fool analysts but still has plenty of room left to run. To get instant access to the name of this company transforming the IT industry, click here -- it's free.

The article Why the Dow Jumped Nearly 100 Points Today originally appeared on Fool.com.

Fool contributor John Divine has no position in any stocks mentioned.  You can follow him on Twitter, @divinebizkid , and on Motley Fool CAPS, @TMFDivine . The Motley Fool recommends Intel and Vodafone and owns shares of Intel, IBM, and Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't 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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