The Dow Jones Industrials have been on an incredible run this January, going from just over 13,000 to the brink of 14,000 in less than a month. A combination of optimistic economic news, grudging accomplishments from the U.S. government in getting tax rates settled for the time being, and decent earnings have investors excited about the future for the first time in a while. That optimism continued today, with the Dow gaining another 72 points to 13,954, just over 200 points shy of what would be a new all-time closing record for the average.

Yet even on a good day for the Dow, Hewlett-Packard managed to lead the average's components on the downside, with a loss of more than 3%. As Fool contributor Doug Ehrman noted this morning, the company has to be worried about a potentially closer relationship between Microsoft and Dell , with Microsoft reportedly involved in the group of investors seeking to take Dell private. For HP, the episode is yet another distraction from its core task of getting its own business in order through its restructuring efforts.

Outside the Dow, Ford plunged nearly 5% as it announced that it expects to lose another $2 billion on its European operations in 2013. After worse-than-expected losses in Europe of about $1.75 billion last year, Ford CFO Bob Shanks said that the likelihood of a European recession will make things even more troubling this year. The interesting thing, though, is that investors have ignored what was largely a favorable showing domestically and elsewhere in the world. That could give investors a buying opportunity for Ford right now.


Finally, VMware dropped more than 21% as its first-quarter guidance disappointed investors. With sales pegged to come in between 5% and 7% below consensus and a plan to cut 900 jobs, VMware's better-than-expected fourth-quarter results went largely ignored as the company needs to demonstrate continuing growth potential in order to justify its valuation.

Can Ford drive higher?
Notwithstanding its European experience, Ford has done very well lately. But is Ford a buy after its swoon today? Find out everything you need to know about the auto giant in our premium research report on Ford, in which our top auto analyst looks at the massive forces affecting Ford's worldwide operations. Simply click here to get instant access to this premium report.

The article These Stocks Helped Keep the Dow Below 14,000 originally appeared on Fool.com.

Fool contributor Dan Caplinger has no position in any stocks mentioned. You can follow him on Twitter @DanCaplinger. The Motley Fool recommends Ford and VMware. The Motley Fool owns shares of Ford, Microsoft, and VMware. 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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