Finally, investors get some good news from the markets! The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI ) is shaking off the past weeks' losses, up 161 points, or 1.3%, as of 2 p.m. EST. Stocks are showing green as far as the eye can see, with only one beleaguered tech giant dipping lower on the Dow today. From one company's upgrade lifting an entire sector to a refreshing breath of economic news, there's hardly a lagging stock out on the markets. Let's see what's behind this upbeat session.
Good news out of housing and finance
A pair of reports out of the housing sector opened up the flurry of activity to start the day. Homebuilder sentiment jetted up to its highest level in more than six years as the industry slowly turns the corner. If that weren't enough optimism out of housing, the National Association of Realtors also released a statement today, reporting a monthly gain of more than 2% in existing-home sales. For the year, those sales are up more than 10%.
Who else should get a lift from good economic news but the financial sector? Bank of America (NYSE: BAC ) has taken off today, with shares up more than 3% so far. It's not just the economy that's helping out: B of A also received an upgrade from Stifel Nicolaus from hold to buy, with a price target of $11 -- more than 20% above what shares currently trade for. Analysts cited a likely dividend increase and positive EPS growth in the assessment. The good news spilled over to the sector as a whole; fellow bank JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM ) also ranks among top Dow leaders, with its shares up 2.6% today.
Telecoms are also having a good day, with both AT&T (NYSE: T ) and Verizon (NYSE: VZ ) ranking near the top of the index, picking up gains of 1.75% and 2.4%, respectively. Reports have surfaced citing high demand for Nokia's (NYSE: NOK ) new Lumia 920 phone, which is sold exclusively by AT&T. The phone's success would likely lead to a big gain for AT&T -- and an even bigger one for struggling Nokia.
Little on the losing side
The only stock struggling to tread water in this bull market is Intel (Nasdaq: INTC ) , whose shares are down 0.2% today. It's been tough times recently for the chip maker as the PC market continues to decline, but news surfacing today further compounded the company's problems. Intel said its CEO, Paul Otellini, will leave his post in May 2013. Intel has yet to name a successor, although whoever fills the position will need to turn around the company's fortunes in the mobile market as PC sales lag.
Overall, it's hard to criticize today's spectacular Dow session. Bank of America continues to impress, continuing its rise of more than 62% year to date. Is this rise a sign of things to come, as today's upgrade indicated, or is it time to sell the most talked-about bank in the country? To find out what you need to know, check out our in-depth company report on Bank of America. The report details Bank of America's prospects, including three reasons to buy and three reasons to sell. Just click here to keep reading.