U.S. stocks opened the first session of 2012 in rally mode, with Wall Street optimistic after positive manufacturing data from China, and strong gains across the pond. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 156 points, or 1.3%, to 12,403. The S&P 500 rose 20 points, or 1.6%, to 1,278. The Nasdaq Composite climbed 59 points, or 2.1%, to 2,660. The first day of the year is typically a good one and today is no different. Money is rotating into the beaten up sectors from 2011 like the financials. Ameriprise is up 3.5% on an upgrade. The big banks are performing well. Bank of America is up 4% as the worst performing Dow component last year. Morgan Stanley is up 6%. The REITs are also performing well. Kimco Reality is up 3% on an upgrade. The tech sector looks good. Google is breaking out to new highs up 2.2%. Plenty of analyst comments today after a dearth of news in December. The list of techs receiving upgrades this morning include Nvidia, Akamai, Micron, Cisco, Altera, LSI Logic, Fusion-io, Apple, and Rambus. Even Research in Motion is trading higher on rumors of management shake up. The energy and commodity sectors are performing well. Molycorp is jumping 3% after securing an agreement for some of their rare earth production. Potash is jumping 5% on an upgrade. Through the first hour the Dow rose over 200 points while the Nasdaq rose 40 points. The only sector in the red, the Utilities, was also the best performing sector of 2011. So its obvious money managers are rotating into the beaten up sectors to start the year. The big question is, how long will it last? Outside the Utility sector, very few stocks are in the red. The only two Dow components in the red, McDonalds and Verizon, were also two of the best performing stocks from last year. Altria is down 2.5% on a negative Barrons cover piece. A couple drug stocks, Bristol Myers and Amgen are also in the red. Through the morning the averages drifted off the highs as volume dropped off, but still a good day to start the New Year. During the lunch hour the averages dipped only to rebound in the afternoon. In the last hour the averages drifted off the highs once again. The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished up 179 points, or 1.5%, at 12,397, led by Alcoa, Bank of America, and J.P. Morgan Chase. The S&P 500 rose 19 points, or 1.6%, to 1,277. Natural-resource stocks and financials lead gains. The Nasdaq Composite rose 43 points, or 1.7%, to 2,648. U.S. stocks ended 2011 with a 5.5% gain for the Dow, near-flat performance for the S&P 500, and a 1.8% decline for the Nasdaq
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