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Banking Issues Send the Dow to Sixth Straight Win

The DJIA recorded a second consecutive settlement atop 13,000

by 3/14/2012 4:35:49 PM
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Even though the major market indexes had a difficult time picking a direction today, fresh multi-year peaks were achieved, nonetheless. On the heels of Tuesday's impressive rally, traders sifted through the stress-test results of major U.S. banks, in which the Fed found that 15 out of the 19 examined firms would be able to endure a "worst-case scenario." Among the notable names receiving a passing grade were Dow components JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM), American Express (AXP), and Bank of America (BAC), which helped the blue-chip barometer extend its positive momentum. Meanwhile, as the dollar continued to strengthen on Tuesday's supportive Fed statement, gold and oil joined the broader-based equity indexes by finishing modestly lower.

CLOSING SUMMARY – INDICES

CLOSING SUMMARY – NYSE AND NASDAQ

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA – 13,194.10) solidified its newfound perch above 13,000 today. Just after the opening bell, the DJIA climbed as high as 13,221.27 -- its loftiest point since January 2008 -- but pared its rise to 16.4 points, or 0.1%, by the close. Thirteen of the 30 blue chips landed in positive territory, as stress-test winners AXP and BAC led the bullish minority with gains of 3.5% and 4.1%, respectively. Meanwhile, Walt Disney (DIS) paced the 17 losing issues with a 1.2% decline.

The S&P 500 Index (SPX – 1,394.28) topped out near a four-year high at 1,399.42, but ultimately inched down 1.7 points, or 0.1%. Finally, the Nasdaq Composite (COMP – 3,040.73) was able to finish with a 0.9-point, or 0.03%, uptick. Just after midday, the COMP touched 3,051.37 -- its highest mark since November 2000.

Turning to equities in focus, shares of SciClone Pharmaceuticals (SCLN) rallied on the heels of stronger-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings ... MetLife's (MET) $2-billion buyback proposal was rejected after the company failed to meet the Fed's stress-test requirements ... Regions Financial (RF) announced a $900-million stock offering to help pay down its outstanding bailout debt ... SunTrust Banks (STI) upwardly revised its first-quarter guidance, suggesting that it will surpass Wall Street's bottom-line estimates ... and today's Quote of the Day comes from Greg Smith, who chose to publicly resign from his executive director position at Goldman Sachs (GS) via The New York Times. In his scathing op-ed, he criticized the company's focus on the bottom line, rather than providing services for its clients -- as well as the culture's negative impact on junior analysts, lamenting:

"You don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that the junior analyst sitting quietly in the corner of the room hearing about 'muppets,' 'ripping eyeballs out' and 'getting paid' doesn't exactly turn into a model citizen."

But these weren't the only headlines hitting the Street today. Click on the links below for our blog coverage of:

And, in case you missed it, Quantitative Analyst Chris Prybal discussed whether the CBOE Market Volatility Index's (VIX) breach of the 15 level is cause for concern. Click here to read what he has to say about the latest dip in the "fear index."

For today's activity in crude oil, gold futures, options, and more, turn to page 2.

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