Maybe it's a Friday thing. After hitting the 14,000 mark last Friday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average experienced big ups and downs throughout this week. And though it opened flat this morning, it jumped minutes later and hasn't looked back. Passing the 14,000 mark yet again, the Dow was hovering there for more than an hour before falling below it shortly after 11 a.m. -- but it's anyone's guess if it will break the mark once again before closing bell. If the good news released this morning from our government and the EU are any indicators, the Dow might have a good chance of doing so.
Good news The Commerce Department's announcement that the country's trade deficit has shrunk during the month of December was expected. What was not expected was the degree to which it shrank -- December's deficit is the narrowest this country has seen in three years. While analysts expected $46 billion, the actual number ($38.5 billion) suggests that the economy performed much better than we thought during the fourth quarter of 2012. These numbers could result in a revision of the GDP numbers released last week, which disappointed many.
And from across the pond, it was announced that the European Union has agreed to a budget deal after overnight meetings. The European markets were up after the news.
More good news The tech sector is getting some love from the Dow, as Hewlett-Packard Company (NYSE:HPQ), Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC), and Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) have all had good boosts this morning.
HP announced that it would be stepping up oversight on its Chinese suppliers, who often take advantage of student and temporary workers. According to HP's proposed action, students from vocational schools will be limited in their suppliers' workforce, must work in an area relevant to their study, and be allowed to leave without penalty after giving reasonable notice. Though some question the efficacy of these new proposals, HP will begin requesting information and auditing its suppliers on a more frequent basis. This announcement comes before the July 1 enactment of a Chinese amendment aimed at protecting student and temporary workers.
Intel has had a few news mentions this morning. The semiconductor giant has invested another $6.5 million in network virtualization start-up Big Switch. The purpose of Big Switch is to develop software-defined networking, which would allow software to control networks and replace some of the functions in traditional routers and switches. This new focus is supposedly a big threat to Cisco Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ:CSCO)'s current hold on the router and switch market. In other news, Asus has revealed a new phablet (phone-tablet) that centers around an Intel Atom processor with Imagination PowerVR SGX540 graphics. The Asus MeMO Pad would be aimed at the Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) Nexus 7's market share.