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It's been a volatile week, with stocks moving up or down by 100 points or more in four of the five sessions. Today, though, the winners ruled the roost, with the Dow Jones Industrials (INDEX: ^DJI ) rising 188 points, and soaring through the 13,000 level on hopes that slower economic growth will somehow persuade central banks around the world to come to the rescue of the ailing global economy. Broader averages were up even further, with the S&P 500 up almost 2%, and the Nasdaq rising 2.25%.
Every stock in the Dow was higher, but some saw much bigger gains than others. Merck (NYSE: MRK ) led the Dow, rising more than 4% on positive earnings news. As Fool health-care analyst David Williamson pointed out earlier today, the pharma company beat estimates for revenue and income. More importantly, though, Merck seems to be ready to deal with the coming patent expiration of its blockbuster Singulair asthma drug.
Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT ) also had a great day, rising almost 3.5%. After having gotten beaten down by fears of a European recession and slowing growth in China, it only makes sense that the industrial machinery maker would rebound when views of the global economy grew more optimistic. But, in order to justify big gains in Caterpillar and its peers, policy makers need to deliver on growth promises. The same general theme holds true for Alcoa (NYSE: AA ) , as well, which also rose more than 3% today.
Finally, JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM ) jumped more than 3%. The bank announced plans to restructure into three units, trying to draw a greater distinction between its investment banking and retail banking segments. CEO Jamie Dimon says that he's not interested in formally splitting up the company itself and, despite calls from some quarters wanting him to resign, he said he wants to remain atop the bank's executive team for the long haul.
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