Dow Burdened by Uncertainty and Low-Powered Tech


Without much new economic news today, the uncertainty over the FOMC's plan for the continuation of its monetary policy is still wreaking havoc on the Dow Jones Industrial Average this morning. Down 55 points as of 11 a.m. EDT, the index is struggling to gain some forward momentum as investors weigh the evidence from Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and others about what the committee will do in the coming days, weeks, or months.

Change in policy
The standing commentary from Bernanke and others in the FOMC is that if the economy shows signs of continued improvement, then the committee will start paring back its current rate of bond repurchases -- the mechanism it has been using to effect the quantitative easing. Since the stock market has benefited from the current policy, this of course is causing a great stir among investors worried that the markets will start to slide once the committee makes a change.

One of the biggest signs the FOMC is looking for is a positive trend in the labor market. And with yesterday's jobless claims report showing another decline in new unemployment claims, investors feared that may have been the sign. So instead of the positive reaction investors have given previous positive jobless reports, yesterday's caused some unsettling within the market.

Today's news
The one piece of economic news we have today is an increase in durable goods. The Commerce Department reported a 3.3% increase in orders for long-lasting manufactured goods, which signals that the contraction in the factory sector may have run its course.

Inside the Dow
As of this writing, Cisco is the lone tech component stock in positive territory for the index. And with a meager 0.08% gain, that could change very quickly. The tech company is likely enjoying the positive feedback from its recently completed acquisition of Ubiquisys, a U.K.-based firm that develops 3G and long-term evolution (LTE) small-cell technologies, allowing service providers connectivity along mobile networks.

After a heady run yesterday following its better-than-expected earnings report, Hewlett-Packard is leading the tech sector lower, with a 1.65% loss. The tech manufacturer gained 17% yesterday, but investors may now be taking a closer look at the company's results after the initial excitement wears off. The company's most important (and largest) segment, personal systems, was off by 20% in revenue compared to the prior year. Even though HP has developed some well-received new devices, it's still losing ground.

Intel is right behind HP, with a 1.62% drop as of this writing. Intel may be on the receiving end of the negative backlash against HP, since the device maker's recently introduced new line of laptops uses Intel processors. Otherwise, the chip maker has been getting a variety of positive news. Its battle with ARM Holding is looking like it might finally swing in Intel's favor, as ARM's stranglehold on the mobile and tablet markets may finally be loosening. Intel is providing the processors and chips for a variety of new devices that will push it further into the market, eating away at ARM's dominance.

When it comes to dominating markets, it doesn't get much better than Intel's position in the PC microprocessor arena. However, that market is maturing, and Intel finds itself in a precarious situation longer-term if it doesn't find new avenues for growth. In this premium research report on Intel, a Motley Fool analyst runs through all of the key topics investors should understand about the chip giant. Click here now to learn more.

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Fool contributor Jessica Alling has no position in any stocks mentioned -- you can contact her here. The Motley Fool recommends Cisco Systems and Intel. The Motley Fool owns shares of Intel. 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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