This Stock Is Leading the Dow's Surge Today

Despite no real news on the fiscal cliff and some mixed economic reports, technology stocks are rallying the Dow as early reports say the Fed plans to continue Operation Twist. As of 1:55 p.m. EST, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) is up 109 points, or 0.83%, to 13,279. The S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC  ) is up about 13 points, or 0.89%, to 1,431.

Here are this morning's four U.S. economic releases:

Report

Period

Result

Previous

NFIB Small Business Optimism Index

November

87.5

93.1

Trade deficit

October

($42.2 billion)

($40.3 billion)

Inventories

October

0.6%

1.1%

Job openings

October

3.7 million

3.6 million

Source: MarketWatch U.S. Economic Calendar.

This morning the National Federation of Independent Business reported that confidence among small-business owners fell 5.6 points to 87.5, indicating that small businesses expect the economy to be worse in the future.

The second release was the trade deficit, which rose nearly 5% to $42.2 billion. That's up from $40.3 billion last month but slightly better than analyst expectations of a trade deficit of $42.5 billion. The drop came from a 3.6% drop in exports combined with a 2.1% drop in imports, both reflecting the souring moods around the world. The third economic release was from the U.S. Department of Commerce, which said wholesale inventories rose 0.6% in October, versus September's 1.1% increase.

The last release was the U.S. Department of Labor's job openings report, which showed that job openings increased by 130,000 to 3.68 million in October from 3.55 million in September. The job openings data is not all that useful, as it's from October, and jobs growth data for November is already available and has proven better than expected.

Other news this morning included surprising German analyst confidence. The ZEW Indicator of Economic Sentiment for Germany increased by 22.6 points in December to 6.9, up from -15.7 in November. The index is compiled by surveying the expectations of 350 economists and analysts on their opinions of Germany's economic future. Eurozone stocks have been rallying all month and continued to rally on the news. I see the jump as analysts following the market's rise.

ZEW Indicator of Economic Sentiment for Germany Chart

ZEW Indicator of Economic Sentiment for Germany data by YCharts.

I believe the real news is that the Fed will reportedly continue Operation Twist, which is supposed to terminate at the end of the month. Operation Twist is the Fed's monthly buying of $40 billion of treasury bonds. The Federal Open Market Committee began its meeting today. We'll have to wait for word tomorrow.

In U.S. news, we continue to sit and wait for any news on the fiscal cliff. Over the weekend, President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner met to discuss the fiscal cliff. Neither side gave any details on Sunday's talks, leaving investors to sit and wait. The Motley Fool has created a special page that will be updated with all of our latest fiscal-cliff coverage to help cut through the daily noise and give you only the information and analysis you need as an investor. Head on over for everything you need to know about fiscal cliff 2012.

With no news about the fiscal-cliff negotiations and only rumors that the Fed will continue Operation Twist, it's a surprise that the market is higher today. Some stocks are trying to get the Dow to finish higher; here are today's leaders.

Today's Dow leaders
Today's Dow leader is Intel (NASDAQ: INTC  ) , up 2.9%. Yesterday Intel fell after an analyst cut his price target on the company. Today Intel is rising with the market after the company announced that new technology for making mobile chips would be ready in 2013. Intel dominates the PC market but has struggled in mobile against rivals like Qualcomm (NASDAQ: QCOM  ) . There's a lot to like about the company, however -- particularly its history of returning cash to shareholders through buybacks and dividends. The stock faces some challenges, but with a 4.6% dividend, Intel is too cheap for investors to ignore, and Fool analyst Eric Bleeker believes Intel could raise its dividend 50%.

When it comes to dominating markets, it doesn't get much better than Intel's position in the PC microprocessor arena. However, that market is maturing, and Intel finds itself in a precarious long-term situation unless it finds new avenues for growth. In this premium research report on Intel, our analyst runs through all of the key topics investors should understand about the chip giant. Better yet, you'll continue to receive updates for an entire year. Click here now to learn more.


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