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The Fed Fuels the Dow's Gains

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) is on the move, and you can thank the Fed for today's gains. After a lackluster start to the day, the Dow has raced to gains of 65 points, or 0.5%, as of 2:05 p.m. EST. Nearly all of the Dow's members are in positive territory so far, with just four stocks in the red. From a big day among financial stocks to another gloomy one for a big-box retailer, let's get caught up on what's happening around the Dow.

Rising with the Fed
While the Dow picked up slight gains at the start of the trading day, things really took off after the Federal Reserve announced a new round of bond-buying for its stimulus program. The Fed says it will begin purchasing $45 billion of treasury notes on top of its ongoing $40 billion per-month purchase of mortgage-backed securities. With the central bank saying it will keep interest rates near 0% so long as unemployment is above 6.5%, Wall Street certainly seems to believe rates won't be rising any time soon.

Financials took off on the news. Dow components JP Morgan (NYSE: JPM  ) , Bank of America (NYSE: BAC  ) , and American Express (NYSE: AXP  ) all rank near the top of the index, each picking up more than 1.2%. JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon further stated at a conference today that the American economy could be set to boom if the fiscal cliff is resolved.

Ups and downs
That same fiscal cliff isn't doing much today to slow down stocks that could be heavily affected by its passing. Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT  ) has seen shares jump 1.6% on the day so far. The major manufacturer announced it will pay its first-quarter dividend early, on Dec. 31, in order to avoid any tax fallout from the fiscal cliff.

Meanwhile, Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ  ) and DuPont (NYSE: DD  ) lead all Dow stocks higher with respective gains of 2.7% and 2.2%.

There are few losers on the day, but Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT  ) hasn't participated in today's upswing. India's government announced that it will launch an inquiry into the company's lobbying practices in the nation, sending the retailer's stock down more than 2.3%.

It's a good day for the financial sector. But with big finance firms still trading at deep discounts to their historical norms, investors everywhere are wondering whether this is the new normal or if finance stocks are a screaming buy today. The answer depends on the company, so to help figure out whether JPMorgan is a buy today, I invite you to read our premium research report on the company today. Click here now for instant access!

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