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Finally! Barring a late crisis, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI ) should snap out of its recent slump. The index soared 1.35% as of 2:00 p.m. EDT after investors desperate for good news suddenly got overwhelmed. Chinese GDP numbers and earnings reports carried the day.
Concern over China struggling surrendered to optimism about Chinese stimulus measures. The 7.6% GDP increase continued the recent trend of slowing growth, but many investors clearly feared worse. The number met expectations and provided a huge relief that China's struggles were not more serious. China did average a 10.47% annual GDP increase between 1991 and 2010, so the country's slowing growth could still reduce world gains. But the GDP number hit the sweet spot between "too bad for hope" and "too good for stimulus," so investors considered it a big relief -- and a big win.
The official JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM ) earnings numbers supplied even greater cause for enthusiasm. Yesterday Warren Buffett called Jamie Dimon "one of the best bankers in the world," and today seemed to confirm that assertion. The company absolutely smashed EPS estimates of $0.72 with a $1.21 second quarter, and Dimon still expects a yearly profit increase despite the trading loss reported at $5.8 billion, $4.4 billion from this quarter. Stocks also cheered a 17% profit increase for bank Wells Fargo that revealed a healthy mortgage banking department. The outlook for financials looks significantly rosier, and shares of JPMorgan climbed over 5%.
The big movers
Shares of Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG ) spiked for a second straight day, rising 2% on continued optimism over hedge fund manager Bill Ackman's efforts to purchase a large stake in the company. Ackman's history of lobbying for valuable changes in the companies he's invested in excited investors. Procter & Gamble can expect changes, but if recent trends persist, they could truly reward shareholders.
Most of the Dow components piggy-backed on JPMorgan's success today, but the banking giant did cause one component to stumble, too. Hewlett-Packard (Nasdaq: HPQ ) again fell more than 2% following JPMorgan's Mark Moskowitz reiterating an underweight rating. HP has struggled all year already, and tech losses across the board indicate a bad earnings report as well. Last night, Lexmark (NYSE: LXK ) cautioned investors it would badly miss earnings targets, which could mean bad news for HP's printing operations.
Great day, time to buy?
The headlines impressed, and left many investors wondering: "Is now the time to buy?" Economic uncertainty will continue to plague the markets, and investors still need to evaluate each company on an individual basis. But the news does soothe some overall concerns after the Dow's long losing streak. Keep the long-term storylines closer to heart, but maybe sleep a little more easily tonight.
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