August 24, 2012
At the halfway point of the trading day, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI ) was up 83 points (0.64%) to 13,140. That's down just 198 points from the one-year high of 13,338 set earlier this week.
There was one economic-data release this morning, and it was negative for the markets. The Commerce Department reported orders for durable goods climbed 4.2% in July, 1.2% above economists' expectations of 3%. The jump in durable orders was the largest this year, driven largely by orders for cars and planes. However, if you exclude the transportation sector, orders were actually down 0.4% last month. This is the second monthly decline in a row of durable goods (excluding transportation orders). However, there was something else that overshadowed the durable goods news.
The big news is reports that European Central bankers are working on a bond-buying program to bring down bond yields. The bank is considering yield band targets that will help contain borrowing costs for weaker nations. Basically, the bank will buy bonds to keep the countries' borrowing costs within a certain range. Spain and Greece have been hurt by the high yields investors are demanding from them to borrow money.
Stocks as a whole are up, and a few are leading the Dow's charge.
Today's top two stocks
- Today's Dow leader is Verizon (NYSE: VZ ) up 1.99% (or $0.84) to $43.09. Yesterday the Federal Communications Commission approved Verizon Wireless' $3.9 billion purchase of unused spectrum from a collection of cable companies including Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Bright House Networks, and Cox Communications. Verizon Wireless, which is a joint venture between Verizon and Vodafone (NYSE: VOD ) , said it would use the spectrum for its new 4G LTE network. Verizon Wireless and the cable companies also agreed on a partnership to sell each others' services through their respective stores and sales forces.
- American Express (NYSE: AXP ) is up 1.26% (or $0.71) to $57.13. Any positive news for the economy (i.e., today's news) means more spending and more earnings for AmEx. Also, last week AmEx completed a secondary bond offering at the absurdly low rate of 0.989%. The low rate reflects generally low interest rates, American Express' good credit rating, and investors' demand for yield. American Express reported mixed earnings last month, and the stock is down slightly over 2% since then.
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