With the stock markets showing a sea of red today, you might feel like there's not much to be optimistic about. But even though the Dow Jones Industrials (INDEX: ^DJI ) are still off about 100 points as of 2:45 p.m. EDT, they've rebounded from a loss of more than 180 points earlier in the day.
Among the best performers are oil stocks ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM ) and Chevron (NYSE: CVX ) . Oil itself is down about $1 per barrel today, so that doesn't explain the positive performance. But with both companies reporting earnings later this week, some investors are hoping that a boost in dividends may be in the offing. Certainly Exxon's 2.2% yield lags behind most of its peers, including Chevron, which boasts a yield above 3%. Yet this is also the quarter when Chevron would traditionally raise its dividend -- although having boosted its payout twice in the past four quarters, it may not feel the need to do so a third time.
Verizon (NYSE: VZ ) is also up slightly. With its yield of more than 5%, dividend investors are nothing but happy about the stock's payout. But like so many other companies that depend on the success of the iPhone and other popular mobile products, Verizon has a lot riding on Apple's earnings report tomorrow. For the long run, though, Verizon's best chance to boost profits is to move away from a dependence on Apple toward higher-margin products that require smaller subsidies.
Finally, JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM ) is bucking a terrible day for most banks by trading slightly higher. The move comes despite renewed calls for the bank to repay customers of bankrupt MF Global for money that MF Global transferred to JPMorgan. The bank insists that it did nothing wrong.
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