This Week's Top Stocks

It was a slow week on the Dow Jones Industrial Average , with little earnings or economic data to drive stocks either higher or lower. In D.C., Fed chair nominee Janet Yellen passed the Senate banking committee, moving her closer to a vote by the full Senate. The biggest economic news item was a 21,000-person drop in jobless claims a week ago to 323,000. Companies still aren't laying off workers at a fast pace, but they're not hiring very rapidly, either. By the end of the week, stocks had been back and forth, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained just 0.65% overall.

JPMorgan Chase led the Dow with a 4.7% gain this week. This comes on the same week that JPMorgan accepted a $13 billion settlement with the Justice Department over its handling of residential mortgage backed securities. This is on top of a $4.5 billion settlement with institutional investors over the same securities. You may think that massive settlements like this would sink a stock, but investors are really happier to get this behind them than anything. That's why there was a sense of relief this week.  

Chevron was the Dow's second biggest winner after rising 3.3% this week. The company decided not to go forward with a $10 billion project to produce oil off the coast of Scotland. This isn't the final decision for the project but the amount of investment needed to produce oil is seen as too high a risk. Oil companies are facing rising costs to exploit new oilfields and therefore risks become extremely high on project like this. For shareholders, this was a positive because Chevron may have more money to return to them in the form of dividends or buybacks.  

Goldman Sachs was the third best performer on the Dow this week, gaining 2.3%. There was some spillover from the JPMorgan settlement, but don't think that Goldman Sachs doesn't also have a target on its back. Regulators have already said that JPMorgan was just the first in a long line of banks they're going after in relation to the causes of the financial crisis and ensuing foreclosures.

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Fool contributor Travis Hoium has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Chevron and Goldman Sachs and owns shares of JPMorgan Chase. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't 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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