Dow Today: Microsoft Corporation (MSFT) Leads The Day Higher, Merck (MRK) Lags

Editor's Note: Any reference to TheStreet Ratings and its underlying recommendation does not reflect the opinion of TheStreet, Inc. or any of its contributors including Jim Cramer or Stephanie Link.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average ( ^DJI) is trading up 62 points (+0.4%) at 16,419 as of Thursday, Dec 26, 2013, 9:35 a.m. ET. During this time, 7.5 million shares of the 30 Dow components have changed hands vs. an average daily trading volume of 373.3 million. The NYSE advances/declines ratio sits at 1,938 issues advancing vs. 766 declining with 252 unchanged.
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The Dow component leading the way higher looks to be Microsoft Corporation (Nasdaq: MSFT), which is sporting a 32-cent gain (+0.9%) bringing the stock to $37.40. This single gain is lifting the Dow Jones Industrial Average by 2.42 points or roughly accounting for 3.9% of the Dow's overall gain. Volume for Microsoft Corporation currently sits at 1.2 million shares traded vs. an average daily trading volume of 42.1 million shares.

Microsoft Corporation has a market cap of $309.54 billion and is part of the technology sector and computer software & services industry. Shares are up 38.8% year to date as of Tuesday's close. The stock's dividend yield sits at 3%.

Microsoft Corporation (Microsoft) develops, licenses, and supports software, services, and hardware devices worldwide.

TheStreet Ratings rates Microsoft Corporation as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures, notable return on equity, attractive valuation levels and solid stock price performance. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company shows weak operating cash flow.

Holding back the Dow today is Merck (NYSE: MRK), which is lagging the broader index with a one-cent decline to $49.40. Volume for Merck currently sits at 256,859 shares traded vs. an average daily trading volume of 13.4 million shares.

Merck has a market cap of $144.37 billion and is part of the health care sector and drugs industry. Shares are up 20.7% year to date as of Tuesday's close. The stock's dividend yield sits at 3.6%.

Merck & Co., Inc. provides various health solutions through its prescription medicines, vaccines, biologic therapies, animal health, and consumer care products worldwide.

TheStreet Ratings rates Merck as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures, good cash flow from operations, expanding profit margins and increase in stock price during the past year. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had sub par growth in net income.

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