After receiving a strong housing report, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) closed higher by 100.75 points, or 0.69%, and now sits at 14,760. Both the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq also rose higher, gaining 0.95% and 0.82%, respectively, after the Case-Schiller Home Price Index -- which follows housing prices in 20 top U.S. cities -- showed a 2.5% increase in April. The index now indicates that housing prices are 12.1% higher than they were just a year ago. In addition, the Federal Housing Agency released its data showing that throughout the country, housing prices rose 0.7% in April and were 7.4% higher than last April.
The rising housing-price data surely helped a number of stocks throughout the market, and two in particular among the Dow's components. After falling 3.2% and 2.75%, respectively, last week, and then Bank of America (NYSE: BAC ) slightly declining yesterday while JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM ) inched higher, both of the Dow's banking stocks surged higher today. Bank of America increased by 3.01% while JPMorgan rose by 2.28%. My colleague Dan Dzombak covered the reason for the moves in-depth earlier today, which you can read about by clicking here. The short of Dan's reasoning was higher interest rates and an improving housing market. The heart of the banking industry is borrowing money (from the government or depositors) at low interest rates and lending it to others at a higher rate. The difference between what the bank borrows it at and what it lends it out at is the spread, or the profit on the transaction. Lately, the spread has been small, but as the government continues to lend at low rates while the bank can charge a higher rate, the bank will end up making huge sums of money for essentially not doing anything differently.
Shares of Pfizer (NYSE: PFE ) also moved higher today by 1.01%. Yesterday, the company announced that it had completely severed ties with its veterinary pharmaceutical unit, Zoetis. The move was part of Pfizer's long-term plan to make the company more streamlined, reduce costs, and allow it to focus on its primary goals of creating new drugs for disorders and diseases that affect humans. Zoetis produced revenue of $4.3 billion in 2012, so we will have to wait and see if the lower costs can justify the lost revenue stream.
Telecom giant AT&T (NYSE: T ) also saw its shares rise today by 1.65%. One reason for the rise was the company's announcement that it was opening two new research centers, one in Atlanta and another in Plano, Texas. These research facilities will work on innovating areas such as home security, inventory tracking, and in-car online services. AT&T currently has three other research locations throughout the U.S., so this project is not a new thing for the telecommunication company, but it does show that management is attempting to stay ahead of its competitors and looking toward the future.
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