Why the Dow Spiked 152 Points Today

After a bizarre mini "flash crash" situation earlier in the day, blue chips rallied back from their 143-point plunge to post big gains. The brief dip, which lasted only a few minutes, was sparked by a phony tweet from the Associated Press Twitter account saying there was an explosion at the White House and the president was injured. When it became clear those rumors were unfounded, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) resumed its upward march, finishing 152 points, or 1.1%, higher to close at 14,719. 

E.I. du Pont de Nemours (NYSE: DD  ) , which added 2.5% yesterday in anticipation of earnings, met and exceeded the market's expectations, ending 4.1% higher. Investors cheered after it announced higher-than-expected profits, bolstered by the strength of its growing agricultural division. It didn't hurt that the company upped its quarterly dividend by 5%, bringing the annual rate to about 3.4%. 

Financials also performed well today, and Bank of America (NYSE: BAC  ) was no exception, trading 3% higher. Helping the stock in its ascent was an upgrade from Morgan Stanley, which gave shares an overweight rating and a $16 price target, implying a roughly 33% upside from today's closing price. Though investors were unimpressed with B of A's most recent quarter, the time and money it's put into shoring up its balance sheet and settling legal spats are starting to pay off.

Gaining for a fifth straight day, shares of Intel (NASDAQ: INTC  ) traded up 2.2% Tuesday. Though there is still some uncertainty about the future of upper-level leadership on the heels of CEO Paul Otellini's departure, the stock trades at less than 12 times earnings, pays a dividend of 4%, and didn't take a huge hit after a terrible quarter of PC sales. So don't write it off just yet. 

Alas, not everybody can win all the time, and UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH  ) illustrated that point today as one of just six Dow components to sputter. Shedding 1.2%, shares in the U.S.'s largest health insurer have been nearly the mirror opposite of Intel in recent days. It's lost ground in four of the last five sessions as Wall Street shows its dismay with the company's most recent quarter and its concern with the future of the industry in a new age.

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.


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