Why the Dow's Finishing Strong Today

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Earnings news dominated the stock market today, as several huge companies announced their fourth-quarter results after the bell last night. Although the overall market was mixed, strong performance from Dow components pushed the Dow Jones Industrials (INDEX: ^DJI) up 64 points to 12,688. The S&P 500 (INDEX: ^GSPC) dropped two points to 1,312.

Earlier today, Fool analyst Eric Bleeker took a closer look at IBM, Microsoft, and Intel, all of which were up sharply today. Strong results from all three companies bolstered the sense that technology could lead the economy toward a faster rate of expansion.

But not every Dow stock performed well. American Express (NYS: AXP) was down more than 2% in afternoon trading as the company added to its loan loss reserves. The news threw water in the face of those who believed that the credit environment was improving and would help card issuers like AmEx recover from the recession's ill effects.

Home Depot (NYS: HD) also lost ground. Although the stock has performed very strongly over the past several months as conditions in the housing market appear to improve, an article in Forbes suggested that that the stock's current price already reflects an exceedingly optimistic view of housing going forward. The shares were down about 2%.

Finally, Travelers (NYS: TRV) jumped more than 1.4% in afternoon trading. The company is slated to announce earnings next Tuesday, and analysts are expecting a drop of about 20% from year-ago earnings-per-share as the insurance company struggles to rebound from a terrible 2011 for natural disasters and catastrophic losses.

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At the time this article was published Fool contributorDan Caplingerdoesn't own shares of the companies mentioned. You can follow him on Twitterhere. The Motley Fool owns shares of Microsoft, Intel, and IBM.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of Microsoft, Home Depot, and Intel, as well as creating a bull call spread position in Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insightsmakes us better investors. The Fool has adisclosure policy.

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