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A slew of positive economic data sent the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) bouncing back from yesterday's lows, as the index tacked on 100 points, or 0.7%, to end at 14,760. While Monday's market was worried by rising rates in China, investors eased back into equities today, as home sales data, consumer confidence, and durable goods orders all pleasantly surprised Wall Street.
After shedding more than 3% yesterday, Bank of America (NYSE: BAC ) added 3% Tuesday on the heels of a strong real estate market that continues to improve. New home sales in May rose more than 2%, to an annualized 476,000 pace; projections had called for that annual rate to be around 462,000. Most investors don't need to be reminded how real estate values and financial stocks can move in tandem after the recent crisis, which is why Bank of America ended as a big winner today.
Verizon Communications (NYSE: VZ ) gained 2.7% in Tuesday's session, after the deal for Japanese telecom giant SoftBank to acquire Sprint Nextel was formally approved by shareholders. Now, the deal isn't necessarily a positive for Verizon, which may actually face a better-funded competitor as ownership of the rival network changes hands. But the finality of the deal brings some closure for the time being to the telecom industry, where before there had been some uncertainty in the air.
Health care was the worst-performing sector in the markets today, and today's Dow laggards followed that trend quite well. Merck (NYSE: MRK ) , one of only four blue-chip decliners, lost 0.4% Tuesday, even as one of its subsidiaries won an injunction against an Indian firm. The Delhi High Court has reportedly stopped the sale of two generic diabetes drugs in the country, as the patent for the treatment was ruled to be owned by Merck subsidiary MSD.
Lastly, shares of America's largest health insurer, UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH ) , were off 1.4% Tuesday. Health insurers like UnitedHealth will have to pay about half a billion in premium rebates as a result of the Affordable Care Act, a fact that was made public last week. Today's fall may not be directly related, because news of the payments isn't fresh off the wire; but with the health-care sector already in the doldrums today, that looming payout sure didn't entice investors.