Dow Leans on Tech Support


Economic data is the scourge of the Dow Jones Industrial Average once more. After two days of gains, the index is struggling to hold on at the breakeven mark, up 3.76 points just after 11 a.m. EDT. Without positive economic news, investors may begin to wonder if the recent record highs of the index and overall market will hold.

In the news
Though the new data doesn't show that the economy has moved back into recessionary conditions, a slower growth trend continues to concern investors. New jobless claims grew by 36,000 applicants -- a six-week high. Most analysts had expected the claims to grow, but the surge last week was much more than anticipated.

Housing starts in April fell to a five-month low after recently breaking the adjusted annual million-unit pace in March. The dramatic 16.5% decline last month surprised many economists, who had expected a drop to 970,000 units, not 853,000. Though the decline is concerning for investors, the housing starts are still 13.1% higher than the pace recorded a year ago.

Tech soars
Leading the pack of tech stocks boosting the Dow this morning is Cisco Systems, up 12.21%. The company released better-than-expected earnings after the bell yesterday, leading to a resounding cheer from investors. Despite continued concerns over global trends, the company reported its ninth consecutive quarter of growth, with revenues climbing 4.5% for its fiscal third quarter. Cisco also reported a 14.5% increase in profits, with cautiously optimistic commentary about the future due to a slow but steady economic environment.

IBM is also trading higher this morning following the release of Berkshire Hathaway's 13F filing that showed the company increased its holding in the tech giant during the first quarter. The increased confidence in IBM from Warren Buffett and team is an added boost for the stock, up 1.31%.

Hewlett-Packard is also on the rise this morning with a 1.24% gain so far in trading. The company may be relishing the positive response to its recently announced hybrid tablets, the 13-inch Split x2 and the 10-inch SlateBook x2. While the first will function as an oversize tablet and laptop, the second will run on Google's Android platform to save on space and costs. One of the key factors that most reviews note is the inclusion of the keyboard dock in the units' price. Competitors often charge a hefty fee for the separate feature.

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's 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 blip on its road to irrelevance? The Motley Fool's technology analyst details exactly what investors need to know about HP in our premium research report. Just click here now to get your copy today.

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Fool contributor Jessica Alling has no position in any stocks mentioned -- you can contact her here. The Motley Fool recommends Berkshire Hathaway, Cisco Systems, and Google. The Motley Fool owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway, Google, and International Business Machines. 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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