U.S. stocks open modestly higher led by the financials and Bank of America following positive comments at their investor day conference this morning. The Dow Jones Industrial Average inched up 5 points to 12094 with Bank of America up 2%. The S&P 500 rose a point to 1,310 with financial stocks the best performing sector and energy the worst. The Nasdaq Composite dropped 8 points to 2,738. Oil prices retreated 50 cents to under $105 a barrel, but it isn't helping the commodities. Fertilizers, oils, copper, iron ore, and the steels are all lower. Arch Coal and Patriot Coal were upgraded, but are trading lower. Dynegy is lower after reporting a loss. Apache was upgraded, but the stock is lower. Solar play, Trina Solar is up 2% on an upgrade. In the tech sector, Apple opened modestly higher, but then sold off leading the Nasdaq lower. Qualcomm is down 2% even though they are raising their dividend. Nvidia and Atmel are lower even though they were upgraded. Through the first half an hour the averages fell into the red only to rebound. The Dow shot back up thanks to the banks. The financials are the one shining star this morning. Besides Bank of America, all the major financials are higher. Fulton Financial is jumping 3% on an upgrade. In the retail space the news is mixed. Urban Outfitters is down 16% after missing estimates last night. Dicks Sporting Goods is up 5% due to better than expected earnings. Brown Forman is jumping 6% thanks to strong liquor sales. Chipotle Mexican Grill and Bed Bath & Beyond are lower on downgrades. Through the first hour the averages kept improving as the price of oil pulled back. The Dow rose 70 points while the Nasdaq improved by 10 points. Through the morning the averages vacillated back and forth only to shoot higher into the lunch hour. The Dow rose 100 points dragging the Nasdaq with it. In the afternoon the averages kept improving. The reason for the sharp rally is really not known. Oil is lower, but only by a buck. For some reason the bulls are in control. In the last hour the averages moved back to the highs of the day on comments The President and the Prime Minister of Great Britain are in talks to put limits on Libya including a no fly zone. Good news for the markets, but the price of oil isn't reacting. The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished up 124 points at 12,214, led by a 4.7% gain in Bank of America, followed by a 3.5% rise in American Express and a 2.7% rally in J.P. Morgan Chase. The S&P 500 gained 11 points to 1,321 led by a 2.2% rise in financial stocks. Energy was the only declining sector as oil prices fell. The Nasdaq Composite ended up 20 points at 2,765.
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