It's another upbeat day in the markets, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) is humming along. As of 2:20 p.m. EDT the Dow has picked up 43 points, or 0.29%, after hitting yet another intraday high earlier in today's session. Most stocks on the blue-chip index are in the green after big news out of Japan fueled a market jump this morning. Let's catch up on the latest.
Eyes on Japan
Japan pulled the trigger on a massive stimulus plan, unleashing $1.4 trillion worth of quantitative easing as the country looks to push back against the deflation that has plagued its economy for years. Prime minister Shinzo Abe's goal of 2% inflation still looks distant, but the yen plunged after the stimulus was announced -- a good thing for major Japanese multinational corporations looking to get a leg up on international competitors.
The move has certainly helped financial stocks rake in gains today. Bank of America (NYSE: BAC ) and JPMorgan (NYSE: JPM ) have pulled in 0.9% and 1.4%, respectively, to rank among today's top Dow stocks. These companies, and the financial sector at large, have done wonderfully in the easy-money climate of the United States since the recession, and Japan's new stimulus vigor should help banking operations in the world's third-largest economy. If the easing works and Japan's economy rights itself after two decades of stagnation, the biggest banks will be poised to profit.
Outside of finance, McDonald's (NYSE: MCD ) has seen shares rise 1.5% despite reports of trouble in New York City. Several hundred employees of McDonald's and other fast-food restaurants in NYC have gone on strike, demanding better pay and the right to unionize. It's not a move that will shake McDonald's dramatically, but the company doesn't need the headache at this time. Regardless of the stock's surge in 2013, same-store sales fell slightly in February. McDonald's needs its resources focused on improving margins and bringing sales back up to speed, not dealing with striking workers.
Finally, Verizon's (NYSE: VZ ) shares are up about 0.6% after CEO Lowell McAdam said he would be receptive to a no-contract wireless policy similar to the one T-Mobile introduced last week. T-Mobile's no-contract policy will drop its standard two-year contracts, instead having buyers pay for the entire cost of their phones over monthly installments. While T-Mobile claimed that such a plan would lower the cost for consumers, it's not as big a shake-up as it seems: By paying for the phone over time, buyers are still locked into a form of long-term plan. Still, if this new model can boost profitability, it's worth a shot for Verizon and its rivals.
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