Hours before President Obama addresses the nation in the annual State of the Union address, Wall Street closed at the highest levels of the year and within reach of all-time highs. Investors are crossing their fingers, hoping the commander-in-chief will confirm bullish signs like an improving housing market and a solidifying labor environment. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) added 47 points, or 0.34%, to finish at 14,018.
Two bits of macroeconomic news combined to boost Bank of America (NYSE: BAC ) today, as the bank closed the day with 3.3% gains higher than any other component in the index. The first boost was a report on consumer credit showing a decline in the number of Americans who've fallen behind on mortgage payments-- always good news for mortgage originators. The other good omen came from new labor market data released this morning showing that a net of 1.8 million jobs were created in 2012.
Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO ) investors, however, were in a more bearish mood after a disheartening earnings report. The stock fell 2.7% even as sales, operating income, and cash on hand ended at all-time highs. Oh, the iconic soda company also cut costs. The worries, then, actually stemmed from areas in Europe where sales declined more than expected, causing some anxiety about the health of European markets.
General Electric (NYSE: GE ) didn't do anything spectacular during the trading day, but it's done well for itself in after-hours trading, gaining more than 3% on news that cable giant Comcast is buying GE's 49% stake in NBCUniversal for $16.7 billion. More good news for GE investors this afternoon: The company is accelerating its share repurchase program and will buy back $10 billion in stock this year.
Outside of the blue-chip index, Facebook (NASDAQ: FB ) shares suffered a setback, falling 3.1% after a downgrade from Bernstein Research, citing unimpressive growth in mobile revenues in the most recent quarter. Giving the social network's stock a $27 target -- just below current levels -- the report says the 18% growth in mobile ad revenues isn't steep enough to justify much share price appreciation.
For GE, the recent financial crisis struck a blow, but management took advantage of the market's dip to make strategic bets in energy. If you're a GE investor, you need to understand how these bets could drive this company to become the world's infrastructure leader. At the same time, you need to be aware of the threats to GE's portfolio. To help, we're offering comprehensive coverage for investors in a premium report on General Electric, in which our industrials analyst breaks down GE's multiple businesses. You'll find reasons to buy or sell GE, and you'll receive continuing updates as major events unfold during the year. To get started, click here now.