Perhaps good things do come to those who wait. After falling as much as 770 points since the election, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI ) came roaring back today, gaining 207 points, or 1.7%. With President Obama in Asia and Congress on recess for Thanksgiving, fiscal-cliff concerns got put on the back burner, and strong data from the housing sector buoyed the rally. October existing-home sales topped expectations at 4.79 million, and an index showing homebuilder confidence reached a level not seen since 2006.
The housing recovery this year has been a major factor in the push toward stronger growth, and in the past 12 months, property values have risen as much as they have in seven years. Homebuilder stocks have soared, and home-improvement retailer Lowe's (NYSE: LOW ) jumped 6.2% today on an earnings report that showed a 76% increase in net income. Rival Home Depot (NYSE: HD ) is also trading near multiyear highs.
Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) , the world's most valuable company, rode the bullish wave today as well, gaining 7.2% after a number of analysts reiterated their faith in the tech giant. Topeka Capital's Brian White said, "Apple's sell-off has gotten to the point of being insane given the depressed valuation, new blockbuster products, and attractive long-term growth opportunities." The tech giant had fallen more than 25% since the iPhone 5 began shipping two months ago.
Elsewhere in the tech world, Intel (Nasdaq: INTC ) said CEO Paul Otellini will retire sooner than expected and that the company will search outside its own workforce for its next chief. The top chipmaker has struggled lately as the computing world shifts from PC's, where Intel's been dominant, to mobile. Analysts are projecting declining earnings next year, and on a day were every Dow stock was up, Intel was a weak performer, gaining just 0.3%.
In other C-suite news, JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM ) named Marianne Lake as its new CFO. Outgoing CFO Doug Braunstein, who will move to a vice-chairman post, had received some outside scrutiny over the bank's multibillion-dollar trading loss earlier in the year. Lake will be promoted from CFO of the company's consumer and community banking unit. Shares of JPMorgan gained 2.7% on the day.
With data on housing starts and building permits set to be released tomorrow morning, this rally could continue. However, late news that Moody's downgraded France's credit rating from Aaa, its highest rating, to aa1, will probably roil European markets tomorrow and could affect U.S. stocks as well.
If you heard millions of investors breathing a collective sigh of relief today, that was probably the effect of Apple's surprising rally. Shares of the iPhone-maker have fallen sharply in the last two months, and no one seems to know what to expect from the tech titan going forward. Will Apple continue to wow with new products or are its best days behind it? Find out what our senior tech analyst has to say in our new premium research report all about Apple. You can get your copy of this valuable insight. All you have to do is click right here.