For Once, Silicon Valley Lifts the Dow

Tech stocks have hamstrung the Dow Jones Industrial Average more often than not recently. Four of the Dow's five major tech stocks have been lagging their peers over the last three months, with some falling faster than others:

Dow Jones Industrial Average Chart

Dow Jones Industrial Average data by YCharts.

The lone exception is Cisco Systems , but the networking giant's resurgence rests on an earnings-related boost in November. Before that surprise, Cisco lagged just as badly as the rest of Silicon Valley.

But the tide may have turned. At midday today, the three strongest gains on the Dow came from Hewlett-Packard , Cisco, and Microsoft . All of these soared more than 1.6%, while the Dow edged up a mere 0.3%. IBM also outperformed its blue-chip peers with a 0.6% jump, while Intel missed the party and fell 0.6%.

There's no unified surge of tech love behind this seemingly concerted move, though. The drivers of the individual gains are many and varied:

  • Microsoft says sales of its Surface tablet were good enough, and the device may soon become available in traditional retail stores, too. That's new hope for a mobile push that seemed dead last week.

  • Cisco just rolled out a brand-new advertising campaign under the slogan "Tomorrow starts here." This is a refreshingly bold push from a company that lost its laser-like focus on enterprise sales over the last few years -- and a return to Cisco 101.

  • There might be drastic change in HP's near future. Corporate raider Carl Icahn set his sights on the IT conglomerate. He might push HP to sell itself to the highest bidder or perhaps just split up into a handful of more manageable, smaller companies. Either way, investors take Icahn's freshly reported interest as a sign of good things to come.

All of these positive notes add up to a handsome melody for the tech sector.

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