Tech Stocks Hold Back Dow Rally


Investors woke up on the right side of the bed this morning and are shrugging off some negative economic data to push stocks higher. At 3:15 p.m. EST the Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 0.54%, and the S&P 500 has forged 0.52% higher.

Consumer confidence fell sharply in January, according to the Conference Board, whose latest index showed a reading of 58.6 -- the lowest it's been since November 2011. Further, the S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city composite index showed a slight decline in home prices in November. This continues a trend of generally cautious consumers who are concerned about the economy and adjusting to higher taxes in 2013.

Pfizer is the latest company to report earnings that weren't as bad as investors expected, although the company didn't exactly show great strides operationally. Revenue fell 7% to $15.1 billion, and earnings were down to $0.47 per share, but the market expected even worse, so the stock is up 3.2% today. I'd be leery of buying Pfizer here, because the company doesn't have many growth prospects going forward. With health care costs under pressure and patents running out year after year, I wouldn't get caught in a value trap here.

Cisco has fallen 1.3% today after the Department of Homeland Security urged government computer users to disable some networking technology features. These include Universal Plug and Play and other features, and Cisco was named as one of the company's contacted by the government's Computer Emergency Readiness Team. The alert has some tech folks spooked today.

Hewlett-Packard is the biggest loser on the Dow today, falling 2.6%. The stock has been extremely volatile, even with no news, but we now know the company is launching a laptop powered by Google Chrome. Estimates are for a $299 to $349 price target. If low-cost, low-margin notebooks are the turnaround plan for HP, it could be a long year for investors.

The massive wave of mobile computing has done much to unseat the major players in the PC market, including venerable technology names like Hewlett-Packard. However, HP is rapidly shifting its strategy under the new leadership of CEO Meg Whitman. But does this make HP one of the least appreciated turnaround stories on the market, or is this a minor detour on its road to irrelevance? The Motley Fool's technology analyst details exactly what investors need to know about HP in our new premium research report. Just click here now to get your copy today.

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Fool contributor Travis Hoium has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Cisco Systems and Google. The Motley Fool owns shares of Google. 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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