The major averages start to the downside with a mixed bag of early economic data illustrating a weak jobs market, but better than expected retail sales. The Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 14 points to 6,915. The S&P 500 Index shed a point to 720, while the Nasdaq Composite fell 3 points to 1,368. A quiet morning for news. GE had their debt downgraded by S&P, but the stock is higher following a stable outlook. The rest of the financials are modestly lower. Etrade is down 11% on a downgrade. American Express received a second downgrade in as many days. Charles Schwab was upgraded, but the stock is lower. Congress will discuss amending some requirements to mark to market accounting to help out the financials. On the earnings front, Smithfield Foods is up 17% after beating estimates. Pfizer is jumping 4% on positive clinical trials of one of their cancer drugs. The techs and commodity space as quiet this morning. Intel is modestly higher on an upgrade. Following the first half an hour, the averages moved into the green. GE and the financials are perking up. After the first hour, the Dow was near the highs of the day up 60 points. The Nasdaq was up 5 points. As the morning progressed, the Dow pushed higher reaching triple digits thanks to GE which is now up 11%. During the lunch hour, the Dow rose 150 points. Bank of America rose 10% on comments from the CEO indicating once again they don't need more government money and expect to generate $50 pre-tax, pre-provision earnings. Entering the last hour, the Dow rose above 200 points. The CEO of Bank of America keeps talking and the stock keeps inching higher. Don't let him off the stage. The insurance stocks are performing well. So far so good. The averages pushed higher, holding on to most of their gains into the close. The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished up 239 points, or 3.5%, to end at 7,170. The S&P 500 added 29 points, or 4.1%, to 750 while the Nasdaq Composite climbed 54 points, or 4%, to end at 1,426.
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