Big News From Microsoft Helps Float the Dow

Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT  ) is gaining fast today, up by 0.96% by late morning on the news that it will be boosting its quarterly dividend by 22%, as well as buying back up to $40 billion in outstanding shares in an open-ended repurchase program. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) has reacted warmly to the news, and has gained 45 points so far today.

Alcoa is leading the Dow gainers today, soaring nearly 2% already this morning. The company, which has been closing plants in the United States, has reduced its domestic aluminum smelting capacity by more than 12% over the past 10 years, but is pinning its hopes on a new plant in Saudi Arabia, according to a recent article in The Wall Street Journal.

Moving up by 1.5% this morning is Intel (NASDAQ: INTC  ) , following a note from a Stifel Nicolaus analyst. Kevin Cassidy restated his firm's buy rating of Intel, giving the chipmaker a price target of $28 per share. The company's new, more energy-efficient chip design for mobile products prompted the upbeat analysis, with Cassidy noting Intel's emerging attention to a longer-term business strategy.

Banks passed their own tests
After starting off rather well, big banks Bank of America (NYSE: BAC  ) and JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM  ) are losing ground by late morning, despite their stellar showings on the recent, self-administered stress tests. 

Similar to the Federal Reserve's Comprehensive Capital Analysis and Review tests, which were reported last March, these "mid-cycle" tests were created by the banks themselves. Mandated by the Dodd-Frank financial reform law, the hypothetical, stressful economic scenarios under which the banks must perform are designed to test their resilience in the face of another crisis. Bank holding companies with assets of $50 billion or more must participate, and, like peers Citigroup and Wells Fargo, B of A and JPMorgan passed easily. Unfortunately, investors don't seem impressed, and JPMorgan has slunk down to a 0.18% loss as we near the noon hour, with Bank of America still clinging to a small gain of 0.03%.

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