Why the Dow Flew Out of the Gate This Morning

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A rash of encouraging news got investors excited about the stock market this morning. Manufacturing data from China, Europe, and the U.S. all showed improvement, and the private sector added 170,000 jobs in January. Just after 10:45 a.m. EST, the Dow Jones Industrials (INDEX: ^DJI) were soaring 140 points to 12,773, while the S&P 500 jumped 13 points to 1,326.

Hewlett-Packard (NYS: HPQ) jumped nearly 2% despite reports yesterday that it has lost its status as the top maker of personal computers. According to research firm Canalys, Apple (NAS: AAPL) passed by HP with sales of 20.6 million units, topping HP's 15.3 million. But the controversial part of the news is that the research company included iPads and other tablets as "personal computers" for survey purposes.

Bank of America (NYS: BAC) was the Dow's biggest winner, rising 3.5% on the positive economic news. Yet investors are waiting anxiously to see if states will reach an agreement on a settlement of claims arising from mortgage foreclosure investigations. The attorney general of Nevada set a Friday deadline to reach agreement, but the big question for B of A and other mortgage lenders is whether a settlement will include liability releases for lenders.

The lone loser in morning trading was McDonald's (NYS: MCD) , which lost a quarter percent. The company didn't have any obvious news pushing the stock lower, but with the Golden Arches having seen its stock jump 35% in the past year (and with it now close to $100 per share), it's likely that short-term traders are simply turning their attention elsewhere.

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At the time this article was published Fool contributor Dan Caplinger doesn't own shares of the companies mentioned. You can follow him on Twitter here. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple and Bank of America. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of McDonald's and Apple, as well as creating a bull call spread position in Apple. 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 Fool has a disclosure policy.

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