Why the Dow Was Full of Fireworks

The shortened session and some big headlines led to market fireworks ahead of tomorrow's holiday. We have fallout from the latest banking scandal, auto sales surprising analysts, and a biotech's stock reacting to FDA comments. Commodities also rose dramatically, paving the way for energy to be the top-performing sector as hopes are again on the rise for additional quantitative easing by the Federal Reserve.

That said, let's take a closer look at how the three major indexes are faring and take a closer look at the today's newsmakers.

Index

Gain / Loss

Gain / Loss %

Intraday Value

Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI  ) 72.43 0.56% 12,943.82
Nasdaq 24.84 0.84% 2,976.08
S&P 500 (INDEX: ^GSPC  ) 8.51 0.62% 1,374.02

Source: Yahoo! Finance as of 2 p.m. ET.The CEO and COO of Barclays have resigned, or more aptly been tossed overboard, because of the company's involvement of the LIBOR fixing scandal. While movements of the London Interbank borrowing rate may seem both far away and snooze-inducing, be assured that rate manipulation has probably affected you. As the global benchmark, LIBOR is responsible for setting interest rates on more than $800 trillion (trillion!) in loans and derivatives. By fixing the price, Barclays and other banks were able to enrich themselves while effectively stealing from the public. JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM), which is also being investigated by authorities, was one of a handful of Dow components trading lower today.

One bright spot in the generally glum economic news is that auto sales topped most expectations for the past month and sent the adjusted annual sales target back over 14 million vehicles. Volkswagen had its best June since 1973 in this country. General Motors (NYSE: GM  ) reported a 16% jump in sales, crushing analysts' estimates in the process and sending shares soaring more than 5%. Auto sales are a sign of consumer health, and the average age of cars on the road has steadily increased as most people put off big-ticket items during a recession. If the consumer is feeling more comfortable, then perhaps the recovery will pick up steam into the fall.

The downside in betting on risky biotech companies without revenue is that when they get bad news, the sell-off can be immediate and harsh. Investors in Chelsea Therapeutics (Nasdaq: CHTP  ) are glumly shaking their heads with shares plunging 40%, after the FDA said it needed to run additional trials to get neurogenic orthostatic hypotension treatment Northera approved. That trial is already ongoing and should read out in the first quarter next year, with approval possibly by the third quarter of 2013. The only problem is that the company will run out of money sometime in the second quarter. If you really want to buy shares on this drop, just go in knowing dilution is on the way.

And for biotech investors who don't want to wait on Chelsea, Motley Fool co-founder David Gardner recently identified another small-cap health care company poised for monster returns. To uncover this top pick today, enjoy the special free report: "Discover the Next Rule-Breaking Multibagger." Don't miss out on this limited-time offer and your opportunity to discover this game-changing company before the market does. Access your report -- it's totally free.

David Williamson owns shares of General Motors, but he holds no other position in any company mentioned. Check out his holdings and a short bio. The Motley Fool owns shares of JPMorgan Chase. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of General Motors. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


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