Last Week: Yellen Speculation Fuels 200-Point Rise for Dow

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We've still got some time before the Winter Olympics, but stocks have been hitting podium-worthy records all week like Michael Phelps on those deer-antler spray-roids that NFL linemen can't get enough of. Check out what helped the Dow jump another 85 points Friday for its third straight win, sixth straight weekly gain, and 38th all-time high of 2013.

1. It's all about the Yellen
Despite an unimposing 5-foot frame, Janet Yellen is Wall Street's biggest player. The nominee to replace Ben Bernanke as the next chair of the Federal Reserve was the big story. On Thursday, she was grilled in Congress' confirmation hearing like a job interview ("What do you think of interest rates," "Where is our economy heading," "Are you more of a Pepsi or Coke person," etc.). Yellen made clear that the Fed's current stimulus policies should continue, and investors were happy, symbolically swaying their lighters in the air.

2. Third-quarter earnings winners ...
More than 450 companies in the S&P 500 have reported earnings over the past month, and 73% have beaten Wall Street's projections. Macy's earnings were in style, thanks to the department store's big jump in net earnings to $177 million, thanks to mid-summer ad campaigns. DISH Network earnings got great reviews courtesy of 35,000 new subscribers last quarter, bringing the total to a cool $14 million. And casual-dining chain Potbelly's first-ever earnings report was better than the company's actual sandwiches after a 2.5% rise in sales last quarter.

3. ... and third-quarter earnings losers
 Corp. earnings suffered as revenues fell 10% while demand for newspaper ads took a hit. Wal-Mart earnings looked cheap and poorly made as sales fell for the third straight quarter, and the company is predicting a flat, boring holiday season. Cisco, though, took the biggest hit -- the stock plummeted 10% after reporting a drop in emerging-market sales thanks to foreign countries' Snowden-leaked concerns that the U.S. is using Cisco equipment for spying.
4. JPM's corporate drama
The week wouldn't be complete without another hefty lawsuit for America's biggest bank. Just after settling a $13 billion deal last month with the U.S. Justice Department over '08 mortgage-backed securities issues, JPMorgan Chase announced a new settlement on Friday: an additional $4.5 billion to 21 institutional investors for the same problem. Shares of JPM barely budged on the news, though, because they've amassed a serious savings account over the past few years to handle such fines (and any future ones).

5. And the American Airlines/United Airways Lovefest
Remember that $17 billion megamerger from last spring between American Airlines and US Airways? (You read about it while stuck on a seven-hour layover.) The U.S. Department of Justice hasn't been a fan of the monopolyish plan. On Tuesday, the DOJ and the freakishly big airlines reached a settlement that the merger can proceed as long as the new company gives up some of its gates at La Guardia and Reagan National airports to free up some competition. Investors were cool with the news.

What MarketSnacks is checking out this week:

  • Monday: E-commerce retail sales report, third-quarter earnings:
  • Tuesday: Bernanke speaks in D.C., third-quarter earnings: Campbell Soup, La-Z-Boy.
  • Wednesday: Existing-home sales, "minutes" from the Fed's last meeting, earnings: Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Staples.
  • Thursday: Weekly jobless claims, international trade report, earnings: Gap.
  • Friday: Two Fed governors speak, earnings: Foot Locker.
As originally published on

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