1 Reason Bernanke Set Wall Street Ablaze Today

Mr. Market has been on one heck of a climb for the year. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI  ) is up 8.4% for the year and left its previously impressive 13,000 milestone in the dust. In just a few weeks, the index is already trading at 13,241. Here's a look at how the other indices fared today.

Index

Gain / Loss

Gain / Loss %

Ending Value

Dow Jones Industrial Average +160.9 +1.2% 13,241
Nasdaq +54.7 +1.8% 3,123
S&P 500 +19.4 +1.4% 1,416

Big Ben
Ben Bernanke's comments at the National Association for Business Economics Conference today were the fuel for the Dow's rocket shot. Big Ben noted that the jobs market was looking up but is still far from where it needs to be, and that's why he indicated that supportive policies weren't going away any time soon, adding to the belief that further quantitative easing from the Fed could help continue the market's multi-month rally. With the economy showing signs of improvement, investors have to imagine that the Fed will withdraw support eventually, but today wasn't that day.

The big winners
Perhaps surprising to some is that after a horrendous 2011, financials have led the market's charge to multiyear highs. The S&P financial index is up 23% for the year, and Bank of America (NYSE: BAC  ) is right out in front with an almost 80% year-to-date gain. Fellow Fools have called Bank of America the Dow's Biggest Winner in 2012 and have even laid out the plan for how the banking giant could reach $20 a share. It's also been a good year to hold shares of Direxion Daily Financial Bull 3X Shares (AMEX: FAS  ) . The leveraged ETF is up 74% for the year, and it put up a whopping 4.7% gain today.

On the Dow, the biggest winner today was American Express (NYSE: AXP  ) . The credit card company ran up 2.5% today to close just shy of $59. Despite rising to 52-week highs, the company still trades at a P/E of 14.4. In addition, the company generates impressive free cash flow, just one of the reasons Warren Buffett has such an huge stake in the company through Berkshire Hathaway.

Off the Dow, newbie car manufacturer Tesla (Nasdaq: TSLA  ) shot up 9.7% to its highest price since its IPO, a surge triggered by an upgrade from Wunderlich Securities. Tesla is just months away from its much-anticipated, and absolutely crucial, release of the Model S, and many investors are hoping pops like this are a sign of things to come.

The best way to play the news
Watching the broad market each day for notable comments to move the needle can be exciting, gut-wrenching, and stressful. If you're in the mood to pick up a great company to buy for the long term, though, The Motley Fool has created a brand-new free report: "The Motley Fool's Top Stock for 2012." It features a company hand-selected by the Fool's chief investment officer that has a strong future ahead of it. I invite you to take a copy, free for a limited time. Get access to the report and find out the name of this legendary company. The report is free but won't be forever, so check it out today.

Austin Smith owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway. The Motley Fool owns shares of Bank of America. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Tesla Motors and creating a write covered strangle position in American Express. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insightsmakes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.


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