Stocks shook off a series of downgrades by Moody's Investors Services as well as recent negative economic news to cut some of the losses posted just a day ago. Yesterday's 2.23% drop in the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI ) marked its second-largest loss of the year to date, but today's 0.52% gain as of noon EDT should ease the pain. The reductions hit many of the world's largest financial institutions, including Bank of America (NYSE: BAC ) , JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM ) , Citigroup (NYSE: C ) , Goldman Sachs, and Morgan Stanley. Moody's attributed the somewhat belated downgrades to expectations of further volatility for banks. Rising markets indicated that the news wasn't exactly shocking to investors, who had most likely anticipated the downgrades after they had been forecast earlier in the year.
Globally, uncertainty remains the name of the game, as Greek concerns and slowing growth in China are keeping investors on edge. Moody's did not spare European banks, as Barclays, HSBC Holdings, UBS, and many others were downgraded as well. European markets continued to slide after German business confidence reached a two-year low, in response to the United States' disappointing jobless claims report and manufacturing reports released yesterday. London's FTSE 100 (INDEX: ^FTSE ) was down 0.95% at closing.
Bank stocks topped the rising Dow, as Moody's reductions did not exceed investors' expectations. JPMorgan Chase led the charge, jumping 2.03% even after having its credit rating cut by three levels. Moody's cited the bank's recent $2 billion trading loss as an "important factor" in the demotion. Bank of America also benefited, increasing 0.38% after a one-notch demotion on its long-term debt. While the news is not as bad as expected, the downgrades should raise the banks' borrowing costs, so don't get too excited over today's jump.
Elsewhere in the Dow, Alcoa (NYSE: AA ) is moving slightly higher after posting a 4.15% drop yesterday after Goldman Sachs reduced its earnings estimate for the company through 2014. Falling aluminum prices have contributed to Alcoa's drop recently, as prices have tumbled more than $100 to below $1,900 per ton in the last month, compared to $2,300 per ton back in February.
With news coming out every day about a Greek exit or a Spanish bailout, it's important to keep a long-term outlook and let the speculators worry about the day-to-day fluctuations. Be sure to add these companies to your free watchlist to get up-to-date analysis. To get started, click on any company below: