After falling more than 200 points yesterday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) is in the midst of an impressive rally, up 113 points, or 0.82%, as of 2:55 p.m. EST.
In addition to positive news emanating out of the housing sector, the home improvement retailer is benefiting from better-than-expected fiscal fourth-quarter results. For the three months ended Feb. 3, Home Depot reported sales of $18.2 billion, a 13.9% improvement over the same period in 2012. Comparable-store sales, a critical metric in the industry, increased by 7% on a year-over-year basis.
Chairman and CEO Frank Blake commented, "We ended the year with a strong performance as our business benefited from a continued recovery in the housing market coupled with sales related to repairs in the areas affected by Hurricane Sandy."
The company also announced its decision to raise its dividend and initiate a new stock-repurchase plan. As my colleague Dan Radovsky covered earlier today, Home Depot's board approved a 34% increase in its quarterly dividend payout and authorized a $17 billion repurchase program. This marks the 104th consecutive quarter that the company will have paid a dividend.
With respect to Intel, it was reported yesterday that the chip maker has agreed to open its state-of-the-art fabrication facilities to Altera (UNKNOWN: ALTR.DL ) , the programmable-processor veteran. This is a big step for Intel, as it opens up the possibility that the company will begin fabricating chips for mobile-phone giant Apple.
To be fair, however, it's still too early at this point to say what the partnership between Intel and Altera means, as fellow Fool Anders Bylund observed: "The companies didn't make it clear how large this order might be, but Altera is a large operation with $1.8 billion in trailing sales. This contract has the potential to make a significant addition to Intel's revenue streams -- not a huge one, but one that will be hard to ignore."
With respect to one of the worst-performing stocks on the Dow, that unenviable distinction goes to JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM ) , the nation's largest bank by assets.
The megalender is currently in the midst of its investor day in New York City. During the first presentation this morning, CFO Marianne Lake said the bank will cut its headcount this year by 4,000 in its effort to cut annual expenses by $1 billion. The majority of the cuts will come from the consumer side of its operations, as the company is simultaneously expanding its asset-management and commercial-lending businesses.
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