Today's Dow Gains: Just the Beginning?


This morning's stock market rally shows just how eager investors are to reach a resolution in the fiscal-cliff negotiations. If all it takes to send stocks modestly higher is a hint that House Republicans might accept higher tax rates for those earning $1 million and above, it's easy to imagine that a full deal could lead to an even bigger pop, especially given all the cynicism surrounding the entire process. For now, though, the market likes what it's seeing: The Dow Jones Industrials are up 52 points as of 10:50 a.m. EST, while other major benchmarks have posted similar gains.

Bank of America was the Dow's top gainer this morning, rising 2.4% and hitting a new 52-week high. Late Friday, reports emerged that SEC regulators had looked at mortgage repurchases at the bank's Countrywide mortgage unit, with inquiries going back to 2010 or before. With B of A anxious to put the entire episode behind it, it's unclear whether the SEC will pursue further action against Countrywide.

B of A's banking peer JPMorgan Chase is up about 1% on news that it will win a chance to bring to market the first exchange-traded fund that owns physical copper. The ETF proposal raised controversy, with some lawmakers arguing that stockpiling copper would disrupt spot markets. But with similar products for other commodities, JPMorgan will likely see high demand for the ETF when it goes public.

In the latest swing of its extremely volatile stock, Hewlett-Packard found itself the biggest loser in the Dow, falling 1.75%. An analyst report threw cold water on one theory behind the stock's recent run-up, arguing that breaking up HP into smaller component parts would be counterproductive for value-seeking investors. With some investors having speculated that Carl Icahn might come in to make such a move, debunking the theory leaves short-term traders without a reason to own the stock.

Finally, Alcoa is down more than 1.3%. News of Chinese economic growth sent shares of the aluminum giant to a nearly 3% gain last week, but what's lacking is follow-through on the commodity front. Until aluminum prices reflect anticipated demand by moving sharply higher, it's hard to see Alcoa sustaining any long-term rally.

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