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The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI ) saw its first gains of the month on Wednesday, in a bullish session that was sparked mainly by developments in the fiscal cliff talks. In a remarkable concession, Republican House Speaker John Boehner said the wealthy will be paying higher taxes when all negotiations are said and done. Although both sides still seem far from a definitive agreement, progress is progress and the markets cheered the step forward. The Dow rose 82 points, or 0.64%, to settle at 13,034.
Bank of America (NYSE: BAC ) blew its Dow peers out of the water, surging upward more than 5.6% after CEO Brian Moynihan told the public that the bank was expanding its mortgage lending and had seen incredible growth in loans already this year. For a bank that was hit severely during the financial crisis because of exposure to subprime mortgages, investors are hoping the bank has learned its lesson and will get back to the basics with expanded (but not euphoric!) lending.
Another big bank in the news today -- albeit for slightly more morose reasons -- was Citigroup (NYSE: C ) , which itself gained more than 6.3% by the day's end. New CEO Michael Corbat announced the bank's plans to fire more than 11,000 employees -- taking a $1 billion charge in the process -- to trim costs. Increased regulatory pressure and an overly ambitious push into emerging markets were cited as reasons for needing to make the cuts.
In tech, Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ ) continued its recent rise, gaining more than 2%. The company has had a wretched 2012, with shares losing more than 45% of their value over the period. But investors, suspecting an overcorrection in HP's stock price, have bid shares up more than 8.5% in the past five trading days alone.
Chip manufacturer Intel (Nasdaq: INTC ) was today's worst Dow performer, losing a mild 0.6% of its market cap after comments from Paul Otellini seemed to remind investors that the CEO is on his way out. Otellini announced his retirement, effective in May, on Nov. 19, and the market received the news rather poorly: The stock opened Nov. 20 3.5% lower. Despite his expressed confidence today at a California tech conference in what he figured to be an internal replacement, Intel investors made it clear that they would rather not hear about the new chief.
To learn more about the most-talked-about bank out there, 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 get access.