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For nearly two months now, the bull market has been running stronger than the Spanish Encierro in Pamplona. Yet perversely, all the enthusiasm in the market seems to come from the idea that things are bad -- bad enough, in fact, to justify action from the Federal Reserve and other central banks to stimulate the global economy. Arguably, the markets are setting themselves up for big disappointment if the Fed fails to come through, but for now, major market benchmarks are closing at levels they haven't seen in more than four years, with the Dow Jones Industrials (INDEX: ^DJI ) up more than 55 points just after 10:45 a.m. EDT.
Financial stocks led the Dow's advances, with JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM ) rising almost 4% and Bank of America (NYSE: BAC ) up 3%. Although investors are squarely focused on the changing economic and regulatory environment in the U.S., JPMorgan took a step outside the box, announcing a deal with Brazil's Dafiti in which the bank will take an equity stake in the online fashion retail company in exchange for $45 million. With the consumer class in emerging-market economies on the rise, JPMorgan isn't going to let a big opportunity go to waste. Meanwhile, B of A and its peers stand to gain from the proposed European solution to cap sovereign bond yields, which would support the euro and generally promote stability in the financial industry.
Economically sensitive stocks also pulled the Dow higher, as news from China suggested that the country would try to boost its flagging growth. Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT ) jumped 1.75%, as the news would have an immense potential impact on both construction and mining, two areas in which the equipment maker has seen huge success in recent years. Similarly, Alcoa (NYSE: AA ) rose more than 1.5%, although its prospects are still encumbered by weaker fundamental conditions in the aluminum market. Of the two companies, Caterpillar has better prospects to provide big gains quickly, as the stock could pick up gains of more than 25% simply by returning to recent highs. Alcoa, by contrast, has a much steeper road back to full recovery.
Keep on runnin'
When the bulls are running, it pays to find the stocks that will benefit most and stick with them. But when you're uncertain about the future, you may prefer to hedge your bets and go with the highest-quality stocks with the best long-run prospects. You'll find some great ideas for exactly those sorts of stocks in the Motley Fool's special report on the Dow, with three Dow stocks featuring growth and income. Check it out for free today.
Also, find out more about whether Bank of America really deserves the gains it's enjoying today. Get the full scoop by reading our premium investment report on Bank of America today.