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Investors got a lot of good news this morning, which helped push the markets higher today. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) rose by 152 points, or 1.05%, and closed at 14,719. The S&P 500 fared just slightly worse, gaining 1.04%, while the Nasdaq was the big winner today, after it climbed higher by 1.11%.
In addition to a number of positive earnings reports that came out before the market opened, the new-home sales report helped reinforce investors' confidence that the economy is strengthening. The Commerce Department said that new-home sales increased by 1.5% to a seasonally adjusted rate of 417,000 homes. Analysts were expecting 420,000 units, so the results were in line with expectations.
Two of the companies that announced earnings were Travelers (NYSE: TRV ) and DuPont (NYSE: DD ) , whose shares rose by 2.09% and 4.13%, respectively, after both reported better-than-expected earnings for the first quarter.
Travelers reported $2.33 per share in earnings, while analysts were expecting only $2.02. Revenue also beat expectations, coming in at $6.33 billion, while analysts had been estimating only $6.23 billion in sales. The company noted that a drop in natural disaster claims in addition to higher premiums during the quarter allowed the company to outpace expectations, leading to an 11% year-over-year gain in earnings. In addition, Travelers raised its quarterly dividend by 9% to $0.50 per share.
DuPont also announced a dividend increase, which amounts to a 5% increase, and the company beat on the bottom line, while meeting expectations on the top line. Earnings were expected to hit $1.52 per share on revenue of $10.41 billion, but the company managed to stretch that amount of revenue to EPS of $1.56. DuPont also reaffirmed its previous full-year earnings guidance of $3.85 to $4.05 per share, an increase of 2% to 7% over what the company posted for 2012. To read more about DuPont's earnings release, click here.
Shares of Bank of America (NYSE: BAC ) rose 2.99% today, after an analyst at Morgan Stanley upgraded the stock from "equal weight" to "overweight." Cited as reasons for the change, the analyst believes that Bank of America will continue to cut costs and that the bank will be finished with all of its negative legal issues by the end of the year.
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, analysts Anand Chokkavelu, CFA, and Matt Koppenheffer, financials bureau chief, lift the veil on the bank's operations, including detailing three reasons to buy and three reasons to sell. Click here now to claim your copy.