Who Let the Dow Out?

Stocks kicked off the week with a bang today, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) jumped 100 points, or 0.8%, on renewed hopes for a resolution to the fiscal cliff. President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner, the two principals in the negotiation, met at the White House today, and Boehner made an offer to raise taxes on individuals earning more than $1 million a year. According to some observers, a deal could be done as soon as Wednesday; however, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he expected to be completing work on the matter after Christmas.

Nearly all Dow components jumped on the news, with the notable exception of Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ  ) , which fell 3.7% after an analyst threw cold water on investor hopes of a breakup. Deutsche Bank's Chris Whitmore said he believes a spinoff was highly unlikely after the stock jumped recently on reports that activist investor Carl Icahn has been building a stake in the company. Whitmore also said that splitting up the company would do more harm than good, as HP needs the cash flow from its traditional businesses to fund any new ventures.

On the plus side, Bank of America (NYSE: BAC  ) led all Dow stocks, gaining 4% during the session and another 2.2% in after-hours trading on a number of items. Independent research analyst Meredith Whitney, known for her early prediction of the financial collapse, upgraded a number of banks today, including B of A, Citigroup, and Discover Financial Services, to buy from hold. Among other observations, Whitney said Bank of America will be able to quadruple its dividend in January if it passes a Federal Reserve stress test. The stock also benefited from optimism about a fiscal cliff solution and a drop in its housing delinquency rates.

Boeing (NYSE: BA  ) also rode today's positive wave, climbing 0.9% after raising its dividend and resuming its $3.6 billion buyback program. The aerospace giant upped its quarterly payout 10% to 48.5 cents from 44 cents, and could buy back as much as $2 billion in shares in 2013. The manufacturer has taken a hit lately over troubles with its new 787 Dreamliner planes but is also stepping up its production rate to work through a $307 billion backlog.

Today's rally in Bank of America comes after a year that's seen the stock double. Many are saying the once-bloated financial institution has finally become stable and dependable. Find out what our top financial analyst has to say in our new premium research report all about the country's No. 2 bank by assets. This report features an in-depth analysis of B of A's opportunities and risks and comes with a year's worth of free updates. You can get started with this top-notch package now. All you have to do is click right here


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