This Stock Is Dragging the Dow Higher

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.

US House Price Index Chart

US House Price Index data by YCharts.

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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