Why the Dow Rose Today

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The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI) broke its five-day losing streak and finished up as Alcoa (NYS: AA) reported better-than-expected earnings.

Index

Change

Ending Value

Dow Jones Industrial Average+89.46 [+0.70%]12,805.39
S&P 500 (INDEX: ^GSPC) +10.12 [+0.74%]1,368.71

The market has been falling on growing concerns over Europe, specifically Spain and Italy, as well as last Friday's dismal jobs report. These factors combined to send the market down 4% over the past five trading days.

Sentiment shifted last night after hours, when Alcoa reported earnings of $0.09 per share and $6 billion in revenue, blowing away the Street's expectations of $0.04 per share and $5.8 billion in revenue. Alcoa is largely regarded as a bellwether for the economy, so a good performance from the company bodes well.


Alcoa previously reported that it will cut its production capacity by 390,000 tonnes to 18 million tonnes per year, a positive move but one that investors punished the stock price for all the same. The stock price has plummeted 45% over the past year, as an oversupply in the alumina market led to falling prices. Fool analyst David Lee Smith had written that Alcoa's future was even brighter than investors gave the company credit for, and he was pleasantly surprised with its earnings reportt.

Top winners
As you may have expected, today's top Dow stock was Alcoa, up 6.22% to $9.90. Runners-up were Bank of America (NYS: BAC) and JPMorgan Chase, up 3.75% and 2.44%, respectively. The large banks, Bank of America especially, are susceptible to large swings based on economic and market sentiment. Since passing the Federal Reserve's annual stress test last month, Bank of America has risen 19%, and Fool analyst John Maxfield believes that its rise could continue.

Top loser
Chevron
(NYS: CVX) was today's worst Dow stock, down 0.49% to $100.95. Chevron, along with its partners Transocean and Petrobras, have experienced continuing legal struggles in Brazil over a 3,000-barrel spill off the coast in November and seepage in March. Prosecutors are seeking $22 billion for environmental damages. Today, prosecutors were also looking to halt Chevron and Transocean's operations in Brazil; however, after the market closed, it was announced the judge had denied the motion. Petrobras has called the lawsuit over 3,000 spilled barrels "unreasonable," so you can guess what its opinion is of the second $11 billion lawsuit for seepage of one barrel. Lawsuits or not, Fool analyst Isac Simon thinks Chevron is a solid long-term energy stock, and I would agree.

Foolish bottom line
Alcoa's earnings helped move the Dow today, but there are plenty of other companies out there that investors need to watch during earnings season. In a free report from The Motley Fool on "5 Stocks Investors Need to Watch This Earning Season," you'll find information on this quarter's possible big performers. It's completely free for our readers, so access your free report today.

At the time this article was published Dan Dzombakowns shares of holds no other position in any company mentioned.Like his Facebook pageto follow his investing articles.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of Chevron and Petrobras. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insightsmakes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days.

Copyright © 1995 - 2012 The Motley Fool, LLC. All rights reserved. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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