Why the Dow Surged More Than 300 Points Higher Today

Markets couldn't have asked for a better start to 2013. The Dow Jones Industrial Average's (INDEX: ^DJI  ) 308-point gain on Wednesday was the biggest ever recorded for the year's first day of trading. By day's end, the Dow had advanced 2.35% -- the largest one-day percentage gain in the Dow since June-- to close at 13,412. The rampant euphoria was caused by a last-minute deal Congress reached Tuesday night, avoiding widespread tax increases that threatened to derail the U.S. economy. 

All 30 blue-chip stocks were up today, with Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ  ) leading the way with 5.4% gains. HP was the Dow's biggest decliner in 2012, losing 43%. Wall Street is hoping that 2013 will be a turnaround year for the struggling technology bellwether. 

Intel (Nasdaq: INTC  ) , another blue-chip tech laggard in 2012, also had a big day, tacking on 3.7%. Sometimes stocks that fare poorly throughout the year will be sold off by institutional investors toward year's end, only to subsequently be repurchased at the beginning of the next year for tax purposes. Some of HP's and Intel's gains today could possibly be explained by this phenomenon.

3D Systems (NYSE: DDD  ) is an entirely different story. Up 4.6% on the day, this 3-D printing powerhouse isn't benefiting from institutional buying after a sell-off, because there never was a sell-off. No, I don't think any stock whose price more than triples in a year can legally be used in the same sentence as the word "sell-off," unless there's a negation involved.

Yet another technology company, the Chinese search engine Baidu (Nasdaq: BIDU  ) , was also up big-time today. Even after a Credit Suisse analyst reiterated his negative outlook on Baidu stock Monday, the market responded by bidding the stock higher. Perhaps Wall Street agrees with fellow Fool Rick Munarriz, who sees the "underperform" rating as poorly reasoned and largely unjustified.


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