Why the Dow's Finishing March on a High Note

As the quarter comes to an end, even the most short-term-focused traders are taking a step back to look at the amazing results that the stock market has put in during the first three months of 2012. Despite economic and geopolitical fears around the world, increasingly optimistic data on consumer spending, employment, and overall sentiment has pushed stocks to their highest level since well before the financial crisis started. At around 2:45 p.m. EDT, the Dow Jones Industrials (INDEX: ^DJI  ) were up 68 points to 13,214, while the S&P 500 rose 6 points to 1,410.

Among Dow stocks, Bank of America (NYSE: BAC  ) was one of the average's only decliners today. A report from The New York Times speculated that rating agency Moody's might cut credit ratings on B of A, as well as Citigroup (NYSE: C  ) and Morgan Stanley. The collateral impact could hit a variety of investors, ranging from mutual fund shareholders to derivatives traders.

AT&T (NYSE: T  ) rose slightly. Yesterday's announcement from Best Buy that it would close 50 of its stores and lay off hundreds of employees underscores the advantage that AT&T has in running its own small-scale retail stores for popular mobile devices like the iPhone. The smaller stores don't have the overhead of Best Buy's big-box format and allow the telecom company to focus on the most popular products.

Finally, Intel (Nasdaq: INTC  ) is up modestly after getting good press after a recent presentation related to its server microprocessor line. Two analysts reiterated their favorable ratings on Intel shares. Although Intel is getting a lot of attention for entering the mobile-chip market, servers will continue to be an important component of the company's success well into the future.

Say sayonara to Q1
Three months in, 2012 is going well. But don't get cocky. Make sure you have the best stocks you can find. You can learn more about one of them in this free report: "The Motley Fool's Top Stock for 2012." Instant access is just a click away.

Fool contributor Dan Caplinger doesn't own shares of the companies mentioned. You can follow him on Twitter here. The Motley Fool owns shares of Citigroup, Intel, Bank of America, and Best Buy. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Intel. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Fool has a disclosure policy.


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