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It's always nice to end the week on a positive note, and that's exactly what the stock market managed to do today. With a little late-day extra push coming from renewed speculation that the European Central Bank might start buying sovereign bonds to help reduce eurozone interest rates in troubled areas like Spain, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI ) managed to finish up 100 points on the day, cutting its losses for the week. Despite the fact that the ECB has denied such rumors before, investors seem bound and determined that some central bank will come in and support the flagging world economy.
Unquestionably, the most obvious winner from today was Verizon (NYSE: VZ ) , which gained more than 2% on news that the FCC would approve its proposed acquisition of wireless spectrum from a host of cable companies. As Fool analyst Dan Dzombak commented earlier today, a key component of the deal involves partnerships between Verizon's wireless division and cable providers to cross-sell services, something that rivals argued was anti-competitive. Interestingly, Vodafone (Nasdaq: VOD ) posted much more modest gains, despite the fact that the deal involves the Verizon Wireless joint venture in which it holds a 45% interest.
Kraft Foods (NYSE: KFT ) hit a new 10-year high, rising almost 1.5%. The food giant is dealing with cross-currents created by the ongoing drought, but looming over all the short-term happenings for the stock is its coming division into two components. Investors are undoubtedly trying to position themselves as they try to decide whether they think the global snack business or the North American grocery division will have better promise of growth and value.
Finally, American Express (NYSE: AXP ) jumped nearly 2%. Card networks are dependent on overall levels of spending, so when the economy starts to look better, card-network stocks understandably rise. Moreover, a recent survey found that AmEx was the top-rated card issuer for the sixth year in a row, again emphasizing the value of the company's reputation as a high-end card. With so much competition, having the "it" factor leads many people to pay AmEx's annual fees, which generate a lot of revenue for the company.
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