Fighting Words Fail to Upset the Dow

Fighting Words Fail to Upset the Dow

News that President Barack Obama's planned strike on Syria has gained the support of House Speaker John Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor hasn't put the Dow Jones Industrial Average into the red today, though the index did drop slightly early on. Doubtless, the sudden dip in the fortunes of Dow heavy United Technologies , which led the Dow gainers yesterday, has something to do with it.

Economic reports this morning showed an increase in the U.S. trade deficit in July, to $39.1 billion from June's revised $34.5 billion. Housing got some good news, however, with the Mortgage Bankers Association reporting an uptick in mortgage applications of 1.3% from the prior week. While this is good news for the economy, this report could incite another round of taper fears further down the road.

United Technologies suffers early, then rebounds
United Technologies spent some time in the red zone early this morning, but has gained ground as the morning progresses. The aerospace and military contractor's Pratt & Whitney division recently secured a U.S. government contract to build 38 engines for a new crop of Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter jets, and its UTC Aerospace Systems unit just cut a deal with France's HeliDax SAS to service its fleet of helicopters.

While the stock's dip this morning is surprising, the news of the HeliDax SAS deal should help boost shares later on. Similarly, movement toward military action in the Middle East should also give the company a lift -- particularly since its Sikorsky Aircraft unit's Black Hawk helicopter, a favorite of the U.S. military, will likely play a role in any planned aerial strike.

Verizon gains, Microsoft not so much
is seeing its fortunes rise today, after suffering a slump following the news of its $130 billion acquisition of a 45% stake in Vodafone. Verizon's stock is up more than 1% already today, perhaps due to analyst upgrades at Robert W. Baird today and Scotiabank on Tuesday.

According to Monday's conference call with analysts, the company itself is planning a public relations blitz to sell the deal, as well -- with the emphasis on the new Verizon stockholders. Though some of Vodafone's shareholders worried that they hadn't been protected well enough from a dip in Verizon's share price, Bloomberg has calculated that waiting until now to cement the deal will give Vodafone a $125 billion windfall.

Microsoft remains in the red so far today, apparently still smarting from its announced $7 billion purchase of Nokia's handset division. To add insult to injury, the tech giant's stock was cut from "overweight" to "equal weight" by an analyst at Morgan Stanley, who worries that the company's strategy might not be up to its lofty goals. A nice piece of news released this morning, saying that global mobile phone sales are expected to increase more than 7% this year, might give Mr. Softy a lift later in the day.

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Fool contributor Amanda Alix has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Vodafone. 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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