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Investors apparently had a great New Year's break, because they're getting 2012 off on the right foot. Thanks to strong readings on the state of the manufacturing sector both in the U.S. and China, as well as good news on the German unemployment front, stocks rallied at the open and haven't looked back. Just after 2 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrials (INDEX: ^DJI ) were up 209 points to 12,427, while the S&P 500 was up 21 points to 1,279.
JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM ) led the Dow higher, as investors placed their bets that a beaten-down financial sector would recover strongly this year. The move came despite the company facing a lawsuit filed last Friday by a subsidiary of U.S. Bancorp (NYSE: USB ) , which acted as the trustee on mortgage-backed securities that Bear Stearns marketed back in 2005. US Bancorp is seeking to have JPMorgan, which bought Bear Stearns in 2008, buy back the underlying mortgage loans.
Only a pair of stocks dropped. McDonald's (NYSE: MCD ) fell more than 1%. Moves by coffee rival Starbucks to raise prices in certain parts of the U.S. reflect that company's expectation of higher commodity costs, which could eventually weigh on McDonald's as well. Meanwhile, Verizon (NYSE: VZ ) also saw its stock drop almost 1% on news that the company may be paying more to subsidize smartphone purchases, according to an analyst.
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