The Dow Fights Back

Even though the situation in Cyprus and its repercussions throughout Europe are still playing out, investors turned their attention to positive economic data here at home today. As of 12:50 p.m. EDT the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) is up 84 points, or 0.59%, to climb beyond the 14,500 mark once again. The S&P 500 has also joined in the fun, rising 0.52%, while the NASDAQ lags behind, gaining only 0.29%.

The moves were spurred by two data points released this morning: the Case-Shiller Index and the durable-goods orders for February. The Case-Shiller index tracks housing prices in the U.S. in the top 10 and top 20 largest U.S. cities. The 10 largest cities saw home prices rise 7.3% in January, while the top 20 cities saw prices rise 8.3%.

Durable-goods orders in February rose 5.7%, with transportation-related orders leading the charge. Both of these indicators point toward a strengthening U.S. economy, even while Europe and other parts of the world are experiencing slower growth or even struggling to grow at all.

Today's Dow downers
Shares in JPMorgan Chase  (NYSE: JPM  ) and Citigroup  (NYSE: C  ) are slightly positive today. As the problems in Europe play out, some analysts believe the big U.S. banks may actually come out of this mess as big winners. If Europeans no longer trust that their deposits are safe in eurozone banks, they may move those funds to U.S. banks operating in the region.

Shares of Bank of America (NYSE: BAC  ) , however, are down a whopping 1.7%. B of A's decline today is perhaps related to an internal issue. Bloomberg reported this morning that Derek DeVries, who was the acting head of European bank equity research at Bank of America's Merrill Lynch unit in London, is no longer with the firm. Bloomberg News received this information via an email sent to clients, and the news outlet reported that DeVries couldn't be contacted.

DeVries held a top position with Merrill Lynch, and it seems odd that news of his departure would not have been made public by the company. While I am totally speculating here, the sudden unannounced departure may be the result of a trading mishap or a poor decision that could ultimately hurt Bank of America.

Shares of DuPont (NYSE: DD  ) are down 0.6% today. An announcement that DuPont and Monsanto settled an antitrust lawsuit was released late last night, which is likely the cause for the decline today. DuPont agreed to make royalty payments to Monsanto to the tune of $800 million from 2014 through 2017 for the rights to genetically modified soybean material. The settlement also dismisses a $1 billion verdict that had previously been imposed on DuPont when a court had found the company guilty of patent infringement.

More foolish insight
Bank of America's stock doubled in 2012. Is there more yet to come? With significant challenges still ahead, it's critical to have a solid understanding of this megabank before adding it to your portfolio. In The Motley Fool's premium research report on B of A, analyst Anand Chokkavelu, CFA, and Financials bureau chief Matt Koppenheffer lift the veil on the bank's operations, detailing three reasons to buy and three reasons to sell. Click here now to claim your copy.


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