Microsoft's Fall Drags Down the Dow

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Stocks haven't made much progress in the new year after 2013's big run-up, and the first full week of 2014 isn't getting off to a very fast start, either. The Dow Jones Industrial Average has waded through losses through most of the day and only has pulled near breakeven as of 2:30 p.m. EST. More than half of the blue-chip stocks on the Dow still linger in the red, led by Microsoft's 2% drop. However, a few movers are making the most of the market's lack of enthusiasm, as Verizon has pulled higher today to rank among the Dow's leaders. Let's catch up on what you need to know.

Microsoft keeps up its consumer drive
Microsoft is dropping today despite good news from the company's up-and-down hardware division. The tech giant today announced that it has sold more than 3 million Xbox One gaming consoles since the device's launch in November, a fast start to the next generation of Microsoft's push to conquer the living room. The company has had to move quickly: Rival Sony has made impressive headway with its competing PlayStation 4, launched just a week before the Xbox One. Sony said in early December that it had sold 2.1 million PS4s since the launch; updated figures are expected sometime soon.

Even if Microsoft is behind in sales numbers, it's still a smashing success for one of the company's home runs in hardware. With some of Microsoft's recent forays into consumer tech receiving mixed enthusiasm -- notably the releases of the Surface tablets and Windows 8 -- the good news from the Xbox should have Microsoft fans excited.

However, it's only a prelude to what will be a much larger test for Microsoft in the future of the company's consumer business: turning its acquisition of Nokia's device business last year into a powerful platform to promote Windows Phone. Microsoft touted the buy in a big way in 2013, and this year it's time to start seeing the promised synergies pay off in grand plans for the company's wireless endeavor.

Speaking of the telecom world, Verizon's stock has jumped by 0.9% today to rank among the Dow's few leaders. A $3.3 billion deal announced today has T-Mobile  purchasing blocks of airwave licenses from Verizon. It's a big splash for T-Mobile, which is looking to beef up its high-speed network with the low-frequency bands it's picking up. Verizon, meanwhile, continues its push to secure its dominance in the U.S. wireless market. BTIG analyst Walt Piecyk cited the sale as garnering a 38% profit margin for Verizon on its original acquisition of the airwaves, according to a report from Bloomberg.

The company's leadership hasn't translated to stock gains, however: Over the past six months, Verizon's stock has shed more than 5%. Nonetheless, much of Verizon's appeal on the Dow comes from its stellar dividend. The stock's 4.4% yield is among the highest on the blue-chip index. Considering Verizon's dominant position in the U.S. telecom industry, this is one great dividend stock that any long-term investor can appreciate.

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The article Microsoft's Fall Drags Down the Dow originally appeared on

Fool contributor Dan Carroll has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. 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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