Dow Soars 225 Points as Federal Standoff Shows Signs of Easing

A jubilant Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) is flying high this morning, skyrocketing more than 200 points as the political gridlock in Washington looks as if it may be breaking up. The Wall Street Journal reports that House Republicans are reviewing a new bill that would temporarily raise the debt ceiling for a six-week period -- with no strings attached. Later today, those same GOP leaders will be meeting with President Obama for the first time in over a week.

Even a spike in jobless claims can't stop the Dow from partying. The Department of Labor reported that initial claims came in at 374,000 for last week, up by 66,000 from the prior week's total of 308,000. Some of the increase, however, was identified as shutdown-related, as well as due to the state of California catching up with some of its backlogged claims.

Interestingly, Bloomberg's Consumer Comfort Index changed little from last week's reading, despite all the drama taking place on Capitol Hill. The index dropped by a mere 0.3 points, to sit at 29.7.

Lots of winners today
It's not a stretch to find some big Dow winners today, but some companies on the venerable index also have some news of their own to share. Nike (NYSE: NKE  ) is up over 2.7% this morning, as the word spreads about its grand plans to increase growth and shareholder value over the next four years. Announced at the company's investor meeting yesterday, Nike proposes to achieve earnings-per-share growth in the mid-teens, as well as ramping up dividend payments and stock repurchases.

Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT  ) has made an important announcement of its own. The company's board is working hard to find a replacement for outgoing CEO Steve Ballmer, poring over candidate profiles in an effort to put a new chief in place by year's end. Those on the short list, according to Bloomberg, include former Nokia CEO Stephen Elop -- who will be coming on board anyway as part of Nokia's $7 billion acquisition by Microsoft -- and Ford CEO Alan Mulally.

JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM  ) is looking jaunty ahead of its third-quarter earnings release tomorrow, up by more than 2% by late morning. Despite the bank's legal problems and warnings of a slowdown in mortgage and trading activity, JPMorgan is attracting a lot of attention today due to the sale of its commodities division. The Financial Times  notes that more than 24 entities have shown interest in the section, which is valued at $3.3 billion.

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