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Coordinated efforts by Europe's central bankers should Greece's elections go awry, and the prospects for a new round of quantitative easing from the Fed, led the Dow Jones Industrial Average 155 points, or 1.2%, higher yesterday, but some stocks went even higher than the Dow.
Resist the urge to high-five everyone in the cubicles next to you though, since smart investors won't celebrate until they know why their stock surged. Without a fundamental basis for the bounce, these stocks can quickly make the return trip down.
All for the union
We'd naturally expect Dow component stocks like Bank of America (NYSE: BAC ) to run higher on the basis of better global financial news, depending of course on your definition of "better." But joined at the hip as they are with world economies, banking stocks will see their shares run up on efforts to stabilize global markets. So we see Morgan Stanley rising more than 2% yesterday and even battered Citigroup was up almost 1%.
And with the Dow's leap higher tied to both financial news and Greece, seeing National Bank of Greece (NYSE: NBG ) surge 31% is no surprise, either, although Greeks withdrawing up to $1 billion a day in advance of the elections suggests the people themselves have little faith in their situation improving and that NBG's gains may very well be ephemeral.
Greek banks saw deposits shrink $44 billion in 2011 over fears the country would face a financial collapse. As the elections approach to determine whether Greece stays in the eurozone or abandons the euro in favor of a return to the drachma, the people seem to believe the safest course of action is to have their money in hand and stockpile consumer goods until the crisis passes. And Greece's largest foreign-owned bank, Credit Agricole, has contingency plans in place to exit the country should voters elect to leave the EU.
But with a government-imposed information vacuum letting rumors swirl in place of hard data, there's a creeping suspicion that pro-EU candidates will prevail, and that would be a boon to National Bank of Greece.
Still, the financial institution is caught between Scylla and Charybdis. Greece's leaving the union would create untold chaos, but staying would mean the country would be living with severe austerity plans. Neither outcome bodes well for the bank, which is why for a while now I've had an underperform rating on it on Motley Fool CAPS. That's not a popular position to take, though, as 93% of the 1,414 other investment community members rating the stock think it will still be able to come out of this intact.
Tell me in the comments section below or on the National Bank of Greece CAPS page if the investors bidding up its shares yesterday were seduced by the siren song of hope, and then add its stock to the Fool's personalized stock-tracking service to keep up to date.
In other news
Disney (NYSE: DIS ) nearly doubled the index's percentage gains after completing an overhaul of one of its California theme parks. With the movie The Avengers hauling in more than $1 billion since it opened, Disney wants to introduce rides based on the film, which analysts say would help improve profit margins at its theme park operating segment.
While water parks are a fun diversion, water played a different role for molybdenum miner General Moly (NYSE: GMO ) yesterday and helped move its shares 22% higher. A Nevada court ruled state engineers were within their rights to issue water permits for the miner's Mt. Hope project when they approved its 3M plan -- monitoring, management, and mitigation. General Moly has financing lined up, and Korean steelmaker POSCO (NYSE: PKX ) is an investor in the project, but the court challenges and waiting for the Interior Department to stop dragging its feet have been time-consuming.
The miner wants to start construction later this year and putting this behind them is one step closer to meeting that goal. It's why I rated General Moly to outperform on CAPS earlier this year, even though extracting the riches from Mt. Hope won't come for several years yet. It has another project it's developing, its Liberty mine, but potential gains from it are even further out into the future. While that makes it look like dead money for the time being, as CAPS member eggbasket noted last year, 92% of the CAPS All-Stars rating it believe getting in early before everyone realizes there's a gold rush under way may be the best way to approach it.
Going into orbit
Financial news may move stocks big and small, and even Warren Buffett has a stake in some of the largest. If you'd like to know why he keeps his ear to the ground there, check out the Fool's free report "The Stocks Only the Smartest Investors Are Buying," and discover the one banking stock Buffett would buy if he had less money to invest. Download your free copy today -- but hurry! It's for a limited time only.