Why the Dow Continued Winning in 2012

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The Dow came out swinging yesterday and eked out a gain today to start off 2012 on an up note. The S&P 500 followed suit, but the Nasdaq fell ever so slightly.

Index

Change

Ending Value

Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI) +21.04 [+0.17%]12,418.42
Nasdaq (INDEX: ^IXIC) -0.36 [-0.01%]2,648.36
S&P 500 (INDEX: ^GSPC) +0.24 [0.02%]1,277.30

There was low volume today, but the most upbeat news came from the U.S. auto sector, with Ford posting a 10% vehicle sales gain in December.

Meanwhile, oil futures closed at their highest point in eight months (back to May 10). You can see a similar run-up from United States Oil (NYS: USO) , an ETF that seeks to track oil futures contracts (for a 0.65% fee) or oil major ExxonMobil. On the former, beware of tracking errors between futures and spot prices.

And gold stayed above $1,600, moving up 0.79% to $1,612.60 (February futures). The most popular gold ETF, SPDR Gold Trust (NYS: GLD) , followed along and closed up 0.51% to 156.71.

Looking at individual stocks, Alcoa, Microsoft, and Intel led the Dow gainers with 2.4%, 2.4%, and 2.3% increases. There was no major company-specific news on any of the three, but in about a week Alcoa will report earnings and the Consumer Electronics Show will kick off.

It's fun to look at the daily market news, but remember to keep your perspective and invest for the long term. If the big banks like JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America aren't your cup of tea, let me leave you with a smaller, simpler bank that has some of the best operational numbers I've ever seen. I wrote about it in our brand new free report: "The Stocks Only the Smartest Investors Are Buying." I invite you to take a free copy to find out the name of the bank I believe Warren Buffett would be interested in if he could still invest in small banks.

At the time this article was published Anand Chokkaveluowns shares of ExxonMobil and Microsoft. The Motley Fool owns shares of Bank of America, Intel, and Microsoft and has bought calls on Intel.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of and creating bull call spread positions in Microsoft and Intel. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insightsmakes us better investors. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy.

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