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The stock market shook off its euro-jitters today, as the Dow (INDEX: ^DJI ) recorded its best daily performance since the announcement of QE∞ ('QE-infinity') on September 13th, up 0.5%. The S&P 500 performed even better, gaining just shy of 1%. Given the rather dour news from around the globetoday, it's difficult to see this as anything other than a technical response to four- and five-day losing streaks, respectively.
I've been writing in this column that the VIX Index -- the so-called "fear index" -- is disturbingly cheap, and it appears that Emanuel Derman, Goldman Sachs alum, one of the Wall Street's most respected quants, and the author of Models Behaving Badly, may agree with me. Derman re-tweeted a Financial Times article, Wall Street Fear Gauge Loses Scare Factor [sub required], on this very topic. The quote Derman highlighted in his tweet: "Low volatility measures indicate a false sense of security." I couldn't agree more, and I think investors shouldn't be surprised if an abrupt regime shift were to occur, with a spike in volatilities and sharp stock price declines. It's the current regime that is anomalous, so it's a mistake to expect it to continue.
Still, not all the news and data out there is negative. General Electric (NYSE: GE ) , a bellwether of U.S. and global economic health, was the best-performing Dow stock today, gaining 2.85%. That was the sound of investors cheering the company's announcement that it expects revenue from its industrial businesses to climb 10% this year, versus the previous range of 5% to 10%. That's impressive in the context of a 2.5% World Bank estimate for global growth in 2012. If GE is to sustain this growth, in needs to make good in two areas -- to find out what they are, you need to read the Motley Fool's premium report.