Stocks soar as accounting board says 'you bet your assets'

Stocks continued their push higher today, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average spent much of the day above 8,000 before settling down a bit. When the closing bell rang, the DJIA had posted a gain of 216 points, or 2.8 percent, to finish at 7,978.

World leaders at the Group of 20 meetings in London committed to more regulation and more aid for developing nations, which surely boosted stocks. But the real kicker was the end of "mark-to-market" accounting rules that govern how the banks value the illiquid debt assets on their balance sheets. The change sent financial shares soaring, and even stocks which might have otherwise sold off rode the surge.

Among the noteworthy stocks today:

Amazon (AMZN) took another downgrade today, but shares rose anyhow. The online retail giant was downgraded to Equal Weight at Barclays. Yet shares were up over 4% at $76.86 shortly before the close.

Bank of America (BAC) rose partly on the FASB vote to change "mark-to-market" accounting, but it also rose after CEO Ken Lewis gave a long interview to CNBC to address many banking concerns today. Shares were up3.5% at $7.27 shortly before the close. They had traded north of $7.80 this morning.

Citigroup (C) also rose with FASB changes and with the banking sector as a whole. But the company's bid-sale of its Nikko Cordial Securities may actually spark a bidding war from three big Japanese banks. Shares were up over 3% at $2.77 shortly before the close, but they had traded as high as $2.99 today.

Dow Chemical(DOW) is selling Rohm & Haas's Morton International for about $1.675 billion to help pay for the Rohm & Haas merger it has closed upon. Its borrowings are still north of $9 billion, so more asset sales are expected. Dow shares were up about 12% at $9.91 right before the close.

MGM Mirage (MGM) was up huge on word that the casino operator may get a much-needed capital infusion from the Colony Capital group. a huge step since getting a "going concern" note recently. Shares were up 23% at $3.23 shortly before the close.

Morgan Stanley (MS) did not rise with banks today. The brokerage firm, a.k.a. bank holding company, was downgraded this morning to Neutral from Outperform at Credit Suisse. Shares were down almost 1% at $23.53 shortly before the close.
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