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Intel Corporation (INTC), Microsoft Corporation (MSFT): WinTel Cracks Apart Again

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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.

Here’s a split you don’t see every day.

Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC) is the best performer on the Dow today. The stock surged as much as 3.2% overnight. The overall Dow is up, but only by 0.79% as of 1:45 p.m. EDT. That’s not just a small victory for Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC) but a single-day smackdown.

And who’s the biggest Dow loser today? That’s longtime Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC) partner Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT). Redmond’s shares plunged as much as 2.4% overnight. Among the 30 Dow stocks, no other ticker has tumbled more than 0.8%.

Image source: Intel and Microsoft, plus some light editing.

Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC) and Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) tend to walk hand in hand across Wall Street. Intel’s processor sales depend on Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT)’s Windows operating system in a big way, and vice versa. What’s good for the software goose tends to be good for the hardware gander, and so on.

But not today. Instead, market forces are separating the power couple. So what’s behind this highly unusual trading split today?

The divergent paths look even more confusing in the light of one recent rumor, which puts Intel’s mobile Haswell chips inside the next Microsoft Surface tablet. That tidbit made the rounds today, and it should help or hurt both companies equally, right?

Unfortunately, Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT)’s first Surface tablets have been huge busts in the tablet market, so it’s hard to get excited about the sequel’s chances. And for Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC), even a small tablet victory counts as a big deal, because the company really hasn’t penetrated the mobile market at all yet. So this tablet rumor may actually have helped push the two stocks apart today.

In other news, Intel just released a batch of high-powered technologies for the data center. The update ranges from microserver chips aimed at cloud-computing workloads to extremely power-efficient processors for embedded systems, and it includes a brand-new fiber-optic rack architecture.

The market-moving importance of these new products is confirmed by smaller rival Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (NYSE:AMD), whose shares lagged far behind today’s rampant market gains, and even larger jumps in the tech sector. Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (NYSE:AMD) used to give Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC) a real fight in the data center and hopes to do so again, but Intel just added serious firepower to its server systems arsenal.

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