January's hot start hasn't slowed down, as the markets put in a strong performance with all three major indices up today. An increasing flood of fourth-quarter earnings, including five Dow components, pre-market releases of a handful of key economic statistics, and a potential new round of Federal Reserve action were the key drivers.
But before we jump into the day's events, let's cover how the three largest indices fared.
Gain / Loss
Gain / Loss %
Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI)
Nasdaq (INDEX: ^IXIC)
S&P 500 (INDEX: ^GSPC)
It was a good day on the market. All three major indices continued their northward trek, and notably the S&P 500 stayed above 1,300 after crossing it for the first time since summer yesterday. The Nasdaq was our top performer, marking its third straight victory.
Jobless claims came in at a four-year low, although we still have a long way to go before reaching pre-crisis levels. Still, any trend in the right direction is a welcome relief during this prolonged recovery. The lack of inflation showing up in the Producer and Consumer Price indexes has given Ben Bernanke and the Federal Reserve the freedom to take additional action to try to keep the economy moving in the right direction. An increasing number of economists believe a $1 trillion program could be announced before January is up. A third round of quantitative easing would certainly send the market higher.
Bank earnings continue to dominate the headlines, although some big tech companies also reported today. Dow component Bank of America (NYS: BAC) and Morgan Stanley (NYS: MS) were next in line and put up some strong results. Bank of America swung to a $1.6 billion profit -- on asset sales, mind you -- but it certainly beats last year's fourth-quarter $1.6 billion loss. Morgan Stanley reported a loss of its own, $0.14 a share, but that was a huge improvement over the anticipated $0.58-per-share consensus estimate. It's no surprise that the Direxion Financial Bull 3X (NYS: FAS) levered ETF added another 2% on top of yesterday's 4% gain.
Stay tuned for more analysis on important earnings and general market analysis throughout the evening.
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