U.S. investors are notorious for tending to concentrate on domestic news. But as U.S. companies have grown increasingly dependent on the global economy, signs of economic growth from abroad can have a huge impact on earnings. Today, news from China that exports hit their highest level in seven months lifted hopes that the long slowdown in Chinese economic growth may finally be at an end. In response, stocks moved modestly higher, although by 10:45 a.m. EST, the Dow Jones Industrials (DJINDICES:^DJI) had given up most of their gains and were up just 15 points. The S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) was up about a quarter-percent.
Among Dow stocks, Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) climbed almost 2%, bouncing back from yesterday's 5% plunge. The bank has had to deal with some costly settlements recently, and some analysts are concerned that its most recent legal resolutions could hurt earnings when it reports quarterly results next week. On the positive side, though, B of A's actions have removed uncertainty about what could have turned out to be much larger liability, and that's a big part of the reason the shares have performed so well over the past year.
Outside the Dow, Ford (NYSE:F) jumped almost 3% after announcing that it would double its quarterly dividend to $0.10 per share. With the company having restored its dividend less than a year ago, Ford's move shows that the company is confident in its cash liquidity despite facing some ongoing challenges in its European business.
Finally, Molycorp (NYSE:MCP) stunned investors today, losing a quarter of its value after warning that its 2013 sales and cash flow would miss expectations due to low rare-earth prices and delays at its Mountain Pass mine. The plunge is only the latest setback for the long-suffering stock, which has fallen almost 90% from its mid-2011 highs as rare-earth plays turned out to be overhyped.
Fool contributor Dan Caplinger has no position in any stocks mentioned. You can follow him on Twitter @DanCaplinger. The Motley Fool recommends Ford. The Motley Fool owns shares of Bank of America and Ford. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.