The Dow is up slightly, as its largest component is up almost 5% while most markets around the world are unchanged or slightly down. As of 1:25 p.m. EST, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) is up 74 points, or 0.54%, to 13,786. The S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC ) is basically flat, up 0.11% to 1,494.
There was just one U.S. economic release this morning. The Federal Housing Finance Agency reported that home prices rose a seasonally adjusted 0.6% in November for a year-over-year gain of 5.6%. This shows continued strength in the housing market and is a welcome addition to yesterday's positive news about the housing market. Yesterday the National Association of Realtors reported that existing-home sales declined slightly in December to a seasonally adjusted rate of 4.94 million. The big positive, however, was that there were 4.65 million existing-home sales in 2012. That's up 9.2% from last year and a five-year high.
There were two other pieces of news grabbing investors' attention. First, the International Monetary fund decreased it 2013 world growth forecast from 3.5% to 3.4%. One of the biggest changes is that the IMF now expects Europe to experience a slight contraction in 2013 of 0.2%, down from growth of 0.2%. The IMF also expects the U.S. to grow more slowly than previously forecast, cutting its growth estimate from 2.1% to 2%.
The other headline is that the House of Representatives is expected to vote on a bill at any moment now that would expand the debt ceiling by the amount the Treasury borrows until May 16.
Today's Dow leader
Today's Dow leader is IBM (NYSE: IBM ) up more than 5% to $206.20. IBM makes up roughly 11% of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, so when it moves, it has a big impact. Last night IBM reported quarterly results that crushed analyst expectations, including earnings per share (excluding one-time items) of $5.39 versus analyst expectations of $5.25 per share. Revenue was $29.3 billion, above analyst expectations of $29.1 billion. The results were notable for IBM's growth in the BRIC countries, where revenue was up 11%. In addition to the positive quarterly results, IBM also upped its earnings expectations for 2013 to growth of nearly 8%.
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