These Stocks Pulled the Dow Back to Even


This morning, it looked like the stock market was in danger of giving up substantial ground. With some disappointment coming from Europe, the usual pattern has been for stocks to sell off. But thanks in part to pockets of strength within the market, stocks got most of the way back to even today, with the Dow Jones Industrials (INDEX: ^DJI) finishing down just four points. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq had similarly minuscule moves.

One big component of the Dow's recovery was Hewlett-Packard (NYS: HPQ) , which gained almost 3%. With both HP and rival Dell (NAS: DELL) reporting earnings later this week, many analysts have been hopeful that the carnage in the PC market may finally be starting to abate. Moreover, as HP tries to move into other, higher-margin businesses, any confirmation that CEO Meg Whitman's strategy is starting to bear fruit could lead to a huge bounce from the beaten-down stock.

Bank of America (NYS: BAC) was also up sharply, rising almost 2%. Some analysts are pointing to the Kansas City Federal Reserve branch's annual conference in Jackson Hole, Wyo., at the end of the month for a possible announcement on further moves to stimulate the economic recovery, which could in turn have a positive impact on B of A and other big banks. Yet with bank stocks already having risen sharply, it's unclear how much more room B of A has to run.

Finally, Merck (NYS: MRK) rose almost 1%. Over the weekend, a Wall Street Journal article highlighted the difficulty that Merck and its rivals have faced in trying to bolster growth in rapidly expanding emerging markets. Still, Merck expects to get a quarter of its revenue from emerging-market nations. Given the big patent cliff that Big Pharma is staring down right now, Merck and its peers need all the help they can get.

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