Why the Dow's Breaking Out Today

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Investors pushed the stock market up sharply as retail sales grew at the fastest pace in five months, raising hopes that overall economic growth could end up better than expected. Still, with the Federal Reserve announcing its latest moves in monetary policy later this afternoon, there's potential for a reversal if the news doesn't match what bullish investors want to see. For now, though, the Dow Jones Industrials (INDEX: ^DJI) are up 112 points at 13,071 as of 1:45 p.m. EDT, while the S&P 500 is up 12 points to 1,383.

All but two stocks in the Dow traded higher, with economically sensitive stocks putting in the best performance. Alcoa (NYS: AA) was up more than 3%, partially in response to an internal dispute involving RUSAL, the world's largest aluminum company. After a long feud with CEO and controlling shareholder Oleg Deripaska, RUSAL board chairman Viktor Vekselberg gave up his leadership role today, citing the company's huge debts as causing a crisis situation. The discord could prove problematic for Alcoa in the short term, but in the long run, it could give the U.S. aluminum giant an opening to boost its global position.

Among financials, JPMorgan Chase (NYS: JPM) and Bank of America (NYS: BAC) were both up around 2%. In addition to benefiting from greater economic stability, the companies also stand to gain from their foreclosure settlement with state and federal governments, which was formally filed in federal court yesterday. With new details of the deal released this week, critics argue that the impact will be minimal compared to the scope of the overall mortgage crisis.

Finally, Pfizer (NYS: PFE) rose 1.8% despite reports that it was giving up on a deal with Indian biotech Biocon to sell insulin products. The move is just the latest in a series of actions that Pfizer has taken to try to refocus the drug giant on its core business.

Enjoy the day
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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 JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Pfizer. 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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