Financials Lead Dow Higher


Markets were mixed today as the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI) climbed 0.6% but the tech-heavy Nasdaq dropped 0.8% on major losses by Apple (NAS: AAPL) . The broad-based S&P 500 finished up slightly, at 0.2%.

Experiencing its biggest drop since 2008, the iPhone maker's 6.4% fall seemed to spoil an otherwise strong day for stocks. The sell-off came in part as a result of Nokia signing a deal with China Mobile, that country's largest wireless carrier, to carry Nokia's new Lumia 920 Smartphone, which comes with Microsoft software. Apple has yet to score a similar deal with China's No. 1 carrier, and its shares are down nearly 25% since all-time highs reached in September on growing concerns about its ability to continue creating groundbreaking products and sustain its massive profits. The slide continued after-hours, with shares falling another 0.5%.

On the Dow, the financial sector was especially strong, with Bank of America (NYS: BAC) and Travelers (NYS: TRV) leading the way, up 5.7% and 4.9%, respectively. The jump may have been aided by Citigroup's (NYS: C) decision to cut 11,000 jobs, or 4% of its staff, which should save the company $1.1 billion a year. Though the No. 3 bank by assets will take a $1 billion charge on severance and restructuring costs this quarter, Citigroup shareholders applauded the move by new CEO Michael Corbat, sending the stock up 6.3%.

B of A investors may think those job cuts bode well for a renewed focus on efficiency in the banking sector and may also be responding to perceived steps toward a fiscal-cliff compromise. Travelers shares jumped after it estimated the effects of Hurricane Sandy would add up to a net loss of $650 million, which could give it a loss for the quarter. It also said it would recontinue its share-buyback program after suspending it due to the storm. The insurance giant had purchased $350 million of its shares in the third quarter.

In macroeconomic news, October factory orders grew faster than expected, and the ISM services index showed strong growth in November. The ADP reported that, based on its survey, 118,000 jobs were added in November, but that number was slightly below expectations of 125,000. On Friday, the all-important Department of Labor jobs report comes with economists expecting an increase of just 90,000 jobs, as Hurricane Sandy added to the unemployment rolls during the month.

Finally, on the fiscal-cliff watch, in perhaps a sign of desperation to resolve the impasse, about 40 House Republicans and 40 Democrats have signed a letter calling for "all options" to be on the table in the negotiations. Meanwhile, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner said the White House was prepared to go over the cliff if taxes don't rise on the wealthy.

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Jeremy Bowman owns shares of Apple. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple, Bank of America, and Citigroup Motley Fool newsletter services recommend Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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