For bearish investors, today brought the news that they had been dreading. Just as market pundits admonish investors not to fight the Fed, the European equivalent of that advice held very true, as the European Central Bank came out with a bond-buying proposal that helped bring bond yields in troubled Spain and Italy down sharply. Skeptics may argue that the program doesn't fundamentally change anything on the Continent, but that didn't hold back investors from bidding up share prices substantially. The Dow Jones Industrials (INDEX: ^DJI ) gained around 2%, as broader markets participated in the rally.
All 30 Dow stocks saw their prices rise, and even the worst Dow performers finished with decent gains. American Express (NYSE: AXP ) was the true laggard, but even it managed to rise 0.4%. Despite the strong performance of other financial stocks, AmEx is locked in a longer-term battle over the future of mobile payments. AmEx has chosen to emphasize financial innovation rather than retreating to the strength of its traditional card business. That's probably a smart move, but it also involves a lot of risk, which may be why investors are hesitant to make too big a bet on the stock.
Verizon (NYSE: VZ ) gained 0.8% after announcing that it would raise its dividend by 3%. Earlier today, Fool contributor Rich Smith speculated that part of the reason for the company's underperformance might be disappointment that Nokia's (NYSE: NOK ) launch of its new Lumia line appears unlikely to change the paradigm of highly subsidized smartphones.
Finally, Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ ) jumped almost 0.9%. It shouldn't shock anyone for a defensively oriented stock to underperform the broader market on an up-day, as one key reason investors own J&J is to hedge against losses. In the long run, though, J&J still needs to address its long-standing problems with recalls, and other quality-control issues, and find a way to renew its popularity with consumers.
Don't bring me down
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