Stocks moved up strongly for the second day in a row as investors continued to hope that the Fed would hold off on tapering its $85 billion monthly program when it gives an update on its interest rate and policy views tomorrow. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) finished up 138 points, or 0.9%, on the news. The Fed's upcoming actions have been the market's obsession since the Open Market Committee's minutes were released a month ago, revealing that several Fed members were in favor of reducing the bond-buying program. That single-minded focus will hopefully come to an end after the Fed speaks tomorrow at 2 p.m.
Elsewhere, housing reports disappointed as May housing starts came in at 914,000, beneath estimates of 950,000, while building permits missed projections by 9,000, coming in at 974,000. Still, housing starts were up 7% from April's total, while building permits fell slightly from a month ago. The Consumer Price Index continued to show that inflation is well under control as prices went up just 0.1% in May vs. expectations of 0.2%.
Turning to the big board, General Electric (NYSE: GE ) led all blue chips as it announced a new Industrial Internet Analytics Platform (say that five times fast). The industrial powerhouse is teaming up with Amazon.com to put a huge amount of data online on products such as jet engines and gas turbines so it can be analyzed. The cloud-enabled "Industrial Internet" represents a market that could be worth hundreds of billions of dollars by the end of the decade, according to some analysts. GE shares ended up 2.4% on the day.
A day after it was the worst performer on the Dow, Verizon (NYSE: VZ ) shares jumped 1.7% as the telecom giant confirmed its interest in buying Wind Mobile, Canada's No. 4 wireless carrier. The move will likely by encouraged by the Canadian government, which has made efforts to break the three-company oligopoly that controls 90% of the Canadian market. It will also give Verizon an opportunity to claim more subscribers in the country of 30 million.
Elsewhere, UnitedHealth (NYSE: UNH ) shares got a bump after Deutsche Bank raised its price target on the insurance giant from $60 to $63 and maintained its hold rating. Deutsche Bank recently met with UnitedHealth's CEO and VP of Investor Relations, and said it believed the insurance giant had a strong long-term position. UnitedHealth finished up 2% and hit a 52-week high on the news. Considering that the insurance company was downgraded yesterday to a hold by Standpoint Research, the two items seem to be a wash.