Why the Dow's Soaring While Bank of America Falls

The sluggish sessions of the past few days are gone, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) is booming today. As of 2:15 p.m. EST, the index has risen 120 points, or 0.9%, and is closing in on a new 52-week high. With strong government data on the economy pushing stocks higher, most members of the Dow are sitting nicely in the green, with many stocks seeing gains of more than 1%. Even with the good news, however, one of last year's best performers just can't catch a break today.

A rally boosted by housing and jobs
Two nice statistics sweetened Wall Street's fortunes today. The Department of Commerce's release on new housing starts showed a rise of more than 12% last month, bringing new construction to the highest rate in four years. If that wasn't enough, however, the Department of Labor also tossed in a nugget of good news, reporting that initial jobless claims dipped significantly last week -- far more than analysts had expected. While claims tend to vary widely in January and December with the holiday season -- and this could be temporary -- it's still been enough to buoy stocks.

Unfortunately, Bank of America (NYSE: BAC  ) can't take part in the celebration. Last year's top Dow stock has been hammered so far, with shares falling more than 4.5% after a terrible earnings report. Legal fees crushed the big bank's net income for the quarter, reducing EPS to just $0.03. That's a far cry from the stronger earnings of JPMorgan (NYSE: JPM  ) earlier this week, although that bank hasn't participated in today's rally either, with shares down 0.65%.

Companies outside the financial sphere have been having a much better day. Energy giants Chevron (NYSE: CVX  ) and ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM  ) have surged higher on what's been a good day for Big Oil, with shares gaining 1.6% and 1.5%, respectively. Chevron recently picked up an exploration deal in the South China Sea, boosting the company's profile in China's expanding energy market. Both stocks are slightly down for the last three months, but each still ranks among the behemoths of the sector for the long run.

Finally, two PC-related tech companies are performing nicely despite the PC market's decline. Shares of Microsoft and Intel (NASDAQ: INTC  ) rank among the top of the index with respective gains of 1.4% and 1.9%. Intel will report earnings after the closing bell today, and although the chip maker is expected to post significantly reduced earnings and revenue on a year-over-year basis, that hasn't stopped investors from boosting the stock today.

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