Microsoft's Plunge Leads the Dow's Wobbly Dip

Microsoft's Plunge Leads the Dow's Wobbly Dip

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over daily movements, we do like to keep an eye on market changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

Stocks have had a rocky day in trading so far, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average has bounced around between gaining and losing all day. As of 2:30 p.m. EST, the blue-chip index has settled into the red with a loss of about 57 points. Most of the Dow's members are in the red, and two big losers - Microsoft's 2.8% fall and JPMorgan Chase's 2% drop - have weighed down the index in trading. Let's catch up with what you need to know.

Is Mulally a no-go for Microsoft?
Microsoft nosed down today following a report from Ford that CEO Alan Mulally will remain at the company through 2014. Mulally had been among the leading candidates to succeed current Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer as the head of the tech giant, but today's news suggests he's out of the running. It's a disappointment for Microsoft investors, as Mulally's done a great job of bringing Ford around in the wake of the recession. Ford's stock has gained more than 46% in 2013 alone, and the company recently scored its top November in sales since 2004 with 7% total sales growth.

Ford's announcement, although not entirely precluding Mulally from contention, means that Satya Nadella, Microsoft's cloud and enterprise group vice president, looks in much stronger contention for the coveted CEO spot. Reports emerged last week that Microsoft's board was honing in on Mulally and Nadella as the top two candidates for the job.

JPMorgan Chase is falling today after revealing that more than 460,000 prepaid card holders may have had their data compromised by a hack in July. It's the second straight day of bad news from the big bank, which yesterday was part of a handful of American and European banks hit with fines over supposed European and Japanese bank-rate rigging. The European Commission issued $2.3 billion in total fines across six banks, including $108 million from JPMorgan. JPMorgan says it's innocent in the Euribor rate-fixing accusations.

Finally, Pfizer is down about 0.13% despite announcing today that it will open up access to clinical trial and study data for both patients and researchers. Pfizer's looking to help broaden the pool of potential study patients while also spurring other clinical studies around the globe; the announcement goes hand-in-hand with a separate, earlier-announced European initiative to publish clinical trial data of drugs seeking EU approval. It's a good PR move for Pfizer, which is looking into the future with new drugs and potential pipeline stars to compensate for lost sales due to the patent cliff.

Which stock do you need to know in 2014?
Pfizer's had a great performance in 2013, but can it keep it up in the new year? The market stormed out to huge gains across 2013, leaving investors on the sidelines burned. However, opportunistic investors can still find huge winners. The Motley Fool's chief investment officer has just hand-picked one such opportunity in our new report: "The Motley Fool's Top Stock for 2014." To find out which stock it is and read our in-depth report, simply click here. It's free!

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Fool contributor Dan Carroll has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Ford. The Motley Fool owns shares of Ford, JPMorgan Chase, and 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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Originally published