An Up and Down Day on the Dow

U.S. equity markets seesawed today, starting negative and eventually turning positive. On the day, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI) ended up 0.3%. Both the S&P 500 and Nasdaq finished in slightly positive territory as well.

The broad markets opened on a negative note, fueled by sour news from one of the major U.S. homebuilders, KB Home (NYS: KBH) , which announced another quarterly loss and weak orders. The downbeat news sent housing stocks plummeting as investors called into question the scope of the rebound in housing that many hoped for coming into 2012.

And while the markets as a whole remained relatively flat, two Dow components ended the day with gains of 2% or greater. PC powerhouse Hewlett-Packard (NYS: HPQ) led the charge upward, popping 2.7% after undergoing stiff losses earlier this week -- a week that included an announcement from former eBay CEO Meg Whitman that the company will merge its printer and PC units into a single unit. The move should eliminate overhead costs for the tech giant, which has struggled to find its way forward in a world increasingly dominated by smartphones and tablets.

HP largely lacks a compelling option in either the tablet or smartphone space. Its TouchPad product failed to attract meaningful consumer demand last year, forcing retailers to slash prices to move the backed-up inventory. Contrast that with Apple (NAS: AAPL) whose iPad 2 set record sales in the company's most recently reported quarter, moving 15.4 million tablets. Apple furthered its lead against the likes of HP upon the introduction of its new iPad, which managed to sell an astounding 3 million units in its first weekend on sale alone.

Today, HP also named Mark Levine as controller.

Bank of America (NYS: BAC) was the other top performer on the Dow today. The company announced a test plan in several states that would allow consumers at risk of foreclosure to convert to renters so they can stay in their homes. Bank of America's stock has been on somewhat of a tear of late. Positive results coming from the Federal Reserve's stress tests and the slowly improving economy have driven the banking giant's stock up more than 72% since the beginning of 2012. The company ended the trading day up 2.6%.

The long and short of it
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At the time thisarticle was published Andrew Tonner held no financial position in any of the companies mentioned in this article. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of Apple and creating a bull call spread position in Apple. 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. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy.

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