The Dow Drops Despite Factory Strength as Intel, Microsoft Diverge

The Dow Jones Industrials  had slipped 44 points off their all-time record level as of 11 a.m. EDT. The latest economic data showed that factory orders in the U.S. rose 0.7% in April, adding to gains in February and March and faring better than most economists had expected. Market participants are watching policymakers closely, especially in the eurozone where the European Central Bank could make a major announcement on future stimulus plans later this week. But even so, company-specific items are still making markets move, and tech giants Intel and Microsoft found themselves moving in different directions this morning.

Source: Intel.

Intel climbed 0.7% on news of multiple collaborations in the chipmaker's efforts to make its Intel Custom Foundry business available to other semiconductor manufacturers. In particular, Intel's foundry has offered a 14-nanometer design platform that should enable system-on-a-chip designs to get even smaller, making them useful both for mobile applications and for cloud-based infrastructure products. With its Tri-Gate transistors helping to boost performance with lower power consumption, Intel has worked with a number of different companies to provide necessary components for the platform's process, as well as enabling design tools for customers to make better use of Intel's facilities. The move represents the latest in Intel's efforts to squeeze more value from its manufacturing capabilities, which have long stood out from its competitors in the semiconductor space.

Microsoft, however, fell more than 1%. The tech giant has been smart about trying to establish new partnerships on a variety of fronts, ranging from cloud computing and data analytics to making its existing software offerings available on mobile platforms. Yet as yesterday's Apple developers conference showed, Microsoft remains behind the curve when it comes to enticing the best and the brightest to provide mobile apps for its Windows platforms. That has necessitated Microsoft's strategy of gravitating toward higher-end, full-feature mobile devices that more closely resemble PCs rather than embracing the benefits of an alternative form factor. Microsoft needs to work hard to make sure that its recent efforts will bear fruit and make the Redmond-based Dow component a relevant part of the tech conversation for years to come.

The Dow Jones Industrials need tech stocks to prosper in order to keep driving to new all-time highs. With all the competition in tech, though, it'll be hard for blue chips Intel and Microsoft to navigate rough waters and come up with growth strategies that fit with the new tech paradigm.

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