JPMorgan Leads the Dow to Record Highs

Stocks are back on the upswing today, and the markets are pushing up to new record highs once again. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) has eclipsed the 15,000 mark after dipping below it at yesterday's close: As of 2:15 p.m. EDT, the index has pulled in gains of 80 points, or about 0.5%. Only five of the Dow's component stocks are in the red, and it's shaping up to be a strong end of the trading day. Let's catch up on the news you need to know.

Interest rates going nowhere
Central-bank action around the globe continues to fuel this market surge. Australia's central bank slashed interest rates today after the European Central Bank cut its own rates to a record low last week. Although U.S. unemployment fell in April, the 7.5% jobless rate means that the American labor market is still far from safe -- don't expect interest rates to rise anytime soon in the U.S. While some observers have questioned how the low rates will impact institutional lending, the easy-borrowing climate has so far kept stocks climbing and investors happy.

It certainly hasn't hurt bank stocks, and JPMorgan (NYSE: JPM  ) shares are on the rise again today, up 1.9% today to continue its 11.9% year-to-date run-up. While JPMorgan struggles with regulatory scrutiny, some advisory firms are campaigning to shake up the company's board and split CEO and chairman Jamie Dimon's dual leadership role. While many have pointed to JPMorgan's "London Whale" losses last year as evidence that change is needed, others still hold that the bank is most effectively run with Dimon in both posts.

Outside of the banking sphere, shares of Verizon (NYSE: VZ  ) have risen 1.6% today. The company has done well maintaining its place atop the telecommunications sector lately, and it got a boost today after Nokia released teaser ads of its new Lumia 928 phone, to be offered by Verizon Wireless in the U.S.

Nokia leadership sees Lumia growth picking up, a trend that will undoubtedly help Verizon maintain its place as the top wireless carrier in the U.S. -- especially on the heels of Nokia's Lumia 822 launch.

On the other side of the Dow, some major tech stocks aren't having such a good day. Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT  ) shares have fallen 1.2% after the company announced that it will release an update for Windows 8 later this year. Microsoft claimed to have sold 100 million Windows 8 licenses, but reception for the operating system has been mixed at best. Microsoft's update, under a software set dubbed with the code name "Blue," aims to apply the lessons of Windows 8's launch, although the company has yet to release details.

Today's biggest loser is Cisco, down 2%. There's little news out on the company, but this stock hasn't performed anywhere near so well as the Dow at large in 2013: Year to date, shares have only gained 3.8%.

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