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Ordinarily, news of a slightly better housing market and other signs of economic strength might boost the stock market. Yet while those factors sent the Dow Jones Industrials (INDEX: ^DJI ) higher out of the gate this morning, the most recent decision from the Federal Reserve to keep its overall policy largely unchanged apparently disappointed investors. By the close, the Dow gave up its earlier gains and finished down about 25 points.
But a few stocks managed to buck the trend and close higher. United Technologies (NYSE: UTX ) was the big gainer, rising just over 1% and reversing losses from yesterday after the company announced earnings. In the short run, near-term guidance cuts and currency effects may make a difference, but investors may instead be focusing on profits that it is already realizing from its recently closed deal to acquire Goodrich. In the long run, the success or failure of that merger will have a huge impact on earnings for years to come, dwarfing the impact of any single quarter.
JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM ) also climbed about 1% after remarks last night from former House Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank, who said that the government shouldn't go after the bank in connection with allegations made against its Bear Stearns unit. With rival Bank of America (NYSE: BAC ) facing a new $1 billion lawsuit over alleged mortgage fraud at Countrywide, any support that JPMorgan can get against potential litigation is a positive.
Finally, Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG ) gained just shy of 1% despite getting a vote of no confidence from Warren Buffett. The Oracle of Omaha told CNBC in a morning interview that he had sold some shares of P&G, citing valuation as the shares remain near 52-week highs. With the company announcing earnings tomorrow, investors will be looking for signs that it's reacting to activist investor Bill Ackman's calls for strong leadership.
You can bank on it
Both JPMorgan and Bank of America have had to deal with a lot of litigation lately. But for B of A, a lot is riding not just on the outcome of lawsuits but also on its ability to maintain its core business model. To learn more about the most talked about bank out there, check out our company report on B of A, in which we answer whether Bank of America is a buy or a stock worth staying away from. You'll get details on Bank of America's prospects from both bullish and bearish perspectives. Just click here to get access.