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What were you doing in November 1996? Listening to Celine Dion on repeat? Watching Michael Jordan dunk over evil cartoon aliens in the cinematic masterpiece Space Jam? Who knows. What you probably were doing, though, if you owned stocks at the time, was making money. That's because November 1996 was the last time the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) was on a streak like this. Adding 83 points, or 0.6%, the Dow surged to its 10th consecutive gain, closing at 14,539.
Buoyed by low jobless figures Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ ) rallied 2.9%, to end the day as the Dow's top performer. With no catalyst other than the encouraging macro news, this is a market driven by momentum, and HP sure has plenty of it. Rebounding from a dismal 2012, where it lost 40% of its value, it's up more than 50% this year already, as CEO Meg Whitman instills investors with confidence that the business could actually be turning around.
Home Depot (NYSE: HD ) was one of just seven stocks to lose value today in the Dow, shedding 0.7%, even as the government reported retail sales growth more than double what experts were calling for in February. So why punish the do-it-yourself retailer for being a big player in a sector beating expectations? Part of the reason could be that the revenue growth was fueled more by ... well, high fuel prices, than a secular willingness to spend.
JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM ) ended the day just below HP as one of the highest-flying blue chips, although that success was fleeting. The stock fell more than 2% in after-hours trading after allegations from the Senate that CEO Jamie Dimon withheld information about losses. Usually, when a company authorizes $6 billion in share buybacks and a dividend hike, the market doesn't punish it. However, when the Federal Reserve, as it did today, tells you to resubmit those plans, the market gets queasy.
Outside the Dow, oil & natural gas production company SandRidge Energy (UNKNOWN: SD.DL ) slipped 2.4%, after making moves to improve its standing with shareholders. First, it struck a deal with a hedge fund that likely signals the departure of its CEO. Then, it vowed to investigate shady transactions with other firms owned by the CEO's family. Alas, SandRidge was promptly slammed by an analyst for having no upward catalysts.
Investors were startled after SandRidge plummeted when natural gas prices reached 10-year lows, but, with the company focusing on growing liquids production, the future looks optimistic. If you are unsure about the future of this emerging oil and gas junior, and are looking to find out more about its strengths and weaknesses, then check out The Motley Fool's premium research report detailing SandRidge's game plan, and what to expect from the company going forward. To get started, simply click here now!