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Earnings Propel Dow Jones Industrial Average Higher; 'Fear Gauge' Extends Slide

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEXDJX:DJI) has added more than 300 points, while the CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) is on track for another drop

by 10/23/2014 2:27:47 PM
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U.S. stocks shot higher out of the gate, thanks to some high-profile earnings beats. Among Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEXDJX:DJI) components, Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE:CAT) and 3M Co (NYSE:MMM) are leading the pack, with the former flirting with triple-digit territory, and the latter notching a new record high of $147.92. Outside of blue chips, Tractor Supply Company (NASDAQ:TSCO) and Nokia Corporation (ADR) (NYSE:NOK) are among the stocks enjoying earnings-induced tailwinds. On the economic front, first-time filings for unemployment benefits rose roughly in line with expectations last week, marking the sixth straight week beneath the 300,000 level.

Against this backdrop, the Dow is up 303 points, or 1.8%, the S&P 500 Index (SPX) has added 34.8 points, or 1.8%, and the Nasdaq Composite (COMP) is flirting with a 92-point, or 2.1%, gain. For the week, the indexes are on pace for gains of 2.3%, 4%, and 5.1%, respectively.

Meanwhile, the CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) has dropped 2.1 points, or 11.5%, bringing its week-to-date loss to a steep 28.1%. Just last week, the market's "fear gauge" touched a two-year high of 31.06. Another 10% daily drop for the VIX would mark the index's fourth in five sessions.

On the New York Stock Exchange, 2,487 equities are trading higher, compared to just 561 in the red, resulting in an advance/decline ratio of 4.43. Likewise, 100 stocks have tagged new annual highs, compared to 29 hitting fresh lows. Brookfield Residential Properties Inc (NYSE:BRP) is the biggest gainer on the Big Board, up 22% thanks to a buyout bid from Brookfield Asset Management Inc. (USA) (NYSE:BAM).

It's a similar setup on the Nasdaq, with 1,987 stocks trading higher, compared to 546 in the red, resulting in an advance/decline ratio of 3.64. Forty-six securities have notched new highs, while 34 are trading in new-low territory. The biggest percentage gainer on the index is Infinera Corp. (NASDAQ:INFN), up 28% as analysts and shareholders applaud a stellar earnings report.

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