Housing Builds, Coal Burns, Dow Rallies

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After a huge surge yesterday, the broader market is adding to its gains thanks to strong housing data and optimism that European leaders can solve Greece's woes, thereby preventing its economically catastrophic rejecting from the eurozone.

With that in mind, let's take a closer look at how the major indexes are faring and drill down on a few stocks making headlines.

Index

Gain/Loss

Gain/Loss %

Intraday Value

Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI) 42.000.34%12,546.48
Nasdaq6.960.24%2,854.17
S&P 5007.090.54%1,323.08

Source: Yahoo! Finance.


The S&P 500 is winning the day with a gain of more than half a percent, while the Nasdaq's relatively lagging performance isn't too surprising as investors catch their breath in the wake of yesterday's 2.5% surge. Domestically, existing home sales hit a high-water mark last set in May 2010, and the median price soared more than 10% since last year. The housing sector remains a heavyweight keeping the recovery grounded, so improvement in the sector is a welcome relief -- and not just for private citizens. Big Wall Street banks still have large exposure to mortgages, so it isn't surprising that the Dow's two leading components are currently Bank of America (NYS: BAC) and JPMorgan Chase, up 3% and a whopping 5.5%, respectively.

A small sense of calm may also be helping the banking sector, but it isn't helping commodities. Oil is off a dollar, down to $91.50 per barrel, while gold has declined 0.4% to $1,582 an ounce. The biggest Dow decliner is Alcoa, off 1.5% despite a small rebound in aluminum prices.

However, that minor decline pales next to the 50%-plus bloodbath suffered by Patriot Coal (NYS: PCX) shareholders. There are mounting concerns that the company will not meet its debt obligations after cutting its metallurgical coal outlook for 2012. Restructuring advisors have reportedly been hired in case of that scenario. The drama has pulled the whole sector down, with both Arch Coal (NYS: ACI) and Peabody Energy (NYS: BTU) hitting new 52-week lows after losing roughly 10% earlier today. For brave investors that still believe in coal, it looks like a window is opening to buy some of the premiere players on the cheap.

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With improvement in housing domestically, many investors are starting to wonder if now is the time to buy Bank of America, but we'll actually give you a few reasons you should sell B of A today. Whether you're a current Bank of America shareholder or thinking about becoming one, it's worth learning about both the bear and bull cases for this stock. Read more here.

At the time this article was published David Williamson holds no position in any company mentioned. Click here to see his holdings and a short bio. The Motley Fool owns shares of JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.
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