Why the Dow's Soaring Higher Today

It doesn't take long for Wall Street to shift gears. All it took was some calming of fears about Europe's government bond markets and a good beginning to what many expect will be a dismal earnings season to get the bull market back on track again. Building on its gains yesterday, the Dow Jones Industrials (INDEX: ^DJI  ) were up another 170 points at around 2:45 p.m. EDT to 12,976. Meanwhile, bond yields went in the other direction, with the 10-year Treasury yield (INDEX: ^TNX  ) moving up to 2.06%.

Among Dow stocks, Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ  ) fell slightly a day after an Arkansas judge imposed a penalty of $1.1 billion on the company. The penalty came after a jury verdict finding that J&J fraudulently misled doctors about its anti-psychotic drug Risperdal. With a long history of recalls and other problems, J&J doesn't need any more bad publicity.

Merck (NYSE: MRK  ) also fell about 0.4% today after U.S. regulators said that its Propecia treatment for baldness would need to carry warning labels about possible sexual dysfunction resulting from its main ingredient, finasteride. The FDA made it clear that no clear causal link had been established to the side effects, but anecdotal evidence supported adding the warnings.

Finally, Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) rose more than 2%. While much of the attention today focused on Hewlett-Packard's big jump, the fact that HP saw reasonably strong growth in PC shipments for the quarter bodes well for Microsoft's PC-centered software products. HP apparently overcame challenges including getting enough hard drives for customers, which was a problem with several other sellers.

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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 Johnson & Johnson and Microsoft. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Microsoft and Johnson & Johnson, as well as creating a diagonal call position in Johnson & Johnson and a bull call spread position in Microsoft. 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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