The Dow Finishes Up a Stellar Week


The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed out a strong week with another solid performance, gaining 71 points, or 0.5%, to reach 13,896. For the week, the Dow gained 300 points, or 2.3%, rising to a five-year high, while the S&P 500 finished above 1,500 for the first time since 2007.

Macroeconomic indicators on housing and jobs are moving in the right direction, corporate earnings are strong, and concerns over budget troubles and Europe have mostly faded.

Procter & Gamble helped keep the rally going today, delivering better-than-expected earnings in its fiscal second quarter. The consumer goods giant earned $1.22 per share against Wall Street estimates of just $1.11, a gain driven by higher prices and new products such as single-use units of Tide detergent. Organic sales grew 3% in the quarter, a greater increase than expected, as the household products maker has struggled to find new avenues for growth in recent years. The company also boosted its 2013 EPS forecast to $3.97-$4.07 and increased its buyback range. P&G shares finished the day up 4%.

New home sales for December were lower than expected at 369,000, but the report still closed out 2012 with the first annual gain in new home sales since 2005, and the highest number since 2009. Industry analysts expect the upward trend to continue in 2013. In Europe, a German business index also made a surprising jump in December, dissuading fears of a fourth-quarter contraction there, sending the German DAX up 1.4%.

In other Dow stocks making moves, JPMorgan Chase climbed 1.7% after Deutsche Bank upgraded the big bank to a buy."Analyst Matthew O'Connor said JPMorgan "was the best-positioned market-sensitive bank for a pickup in consumer loan growth." It also noted that the bank's annual operating expenses may drop by as much as $5 billion in part because of a decline in mortgage service costs.

Wal-Mart was the blue chips' biggest loser today, falling 1.1% on essentially no company-related news. The CEO of Wal-Mart International met yesterday with India's trade minister at Davos to discuss new rules on Foreign Direct Investment in the country. Wal-Mart is still working out the best strategy for entering the subcontinent.

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Jeremy Bowman has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Procter & Gamble. The Motley Fool owns shares of JPMorgan Chase. 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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