Today's new record close for the Dow Jones Industrials (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) may not have come with balloons, confetti, and fanfare, but it was another gain for the stock market, nevertheless. Despite skepticism among many professional investors that the four-year-old bull market is overextended, the Dow managed to finish up about 43 points, to close just shy of 14,300. Broader markets were mixed, with the S&P up -- but the Nasdaq down.
Interestingly, it was two stocks that investors had once almost left for dead that ended up scoring the top percentage gains among the Dow 30. As recently as late 2011, Bank of America (NYSE: BAC ) traded near the $5 mark on fears that its restructuring efforts wouldn't prove sufficient to recapitalize the bank without further massive share dilution. Yet, the stock has more than doubled since then, and finished up another 3% today, as investors look forward to the Federal Reserve's stress tests to see if B of A can once again pay a respectable dividend to shareholders.
Meanwhile, Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ ) also posted a nearly 3% jump. For the beleaguered tech giant, the worst losses came not during the market meltdown in 2008 and 2009, but during 2012, when strategic miscues and a poor environment for PC-related stocks knocked the company for a loop. Shares have regained some of their losses since late 2012, as CEO Meg Whitman's strategies appear to be crystalizing. But the company still has a long way to go before HP can declare victory.
Outside the Dow, Trulia (NYSE: TRLA ) gained almost 10% as it created a partnership with a prominent regional multiple listing service. The deal with Midwest Real Estate Data should help Trulia show its value to real-estate agents by coordinating various tools to assist in sales and marketing. The timing of the announcement was also fortuitous, as it erased declines from yesterday, after Trulia said it would make a secondary stock offering.
Finally, First Solar (NASDAQ: FSLR ) climbed 3% after getting an analyst upgrade. Still, the bounce is insignificant compared to the stock's plunge last week following First Solar's poor earnings report. Going forward, First Solar needs to show improved results this quarter and in the future in order to justify investor confidence in the company's long-term prospects.
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