Slowly but surely, stock markets moved higher this week. There's growing hope that the fiscal cliff will be resolved, and economic data continues to show strength. The unemployment rate fell to 7.7% in November and nonfarm payrolls jumped 146,000, which was well above what economists expected. As the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) rose 0.99% this week and the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) strolled to a 0.13% gain, there were three big winners on the market.
Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) led the Dow with an 8% jump this week. The stock continues to surge higher as the economy improves. If employment and housing both continue the solid gains we've seen over the past few months, the stock could continue its solid run.
The second biggest gainer was Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ), which has been coming back from a terrible beating because of the Autonomy debacle. The gains over the past week or two are more of a dead-cat bounce than anything, though. HP has still had a terrible year, and investors betting on it now are just speculating on a comeback.
Last, but not least, is Travelers (NYSE:TRV), the insurance company that gained 4.3% this week. The stock jumped on Tuesday after management announced that the net cost of Hurricane Sandy will be about $650 million. The company also began buying back shares again, which was a major sign that management is comfortable with its cash position.
Over the past week it's become apparent that the market is looking past the fiscal-cliff bickering and has reacted more to economic news. For now, that has stocks moving higher, but as we get closer to the New Year, the drivers of the market may change. Stay tuned.
Fool contributor Travis Hoium has no positions in the stocks mentioned above. You can follow Travis on Twitter at @FlushDrawFool, check out his personal stock holdings, or follow his CAPS picks at TMFFlushDraw.
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