Dow Hits 16,000+ as GM, U.S. Government Break Ties

Hit up Magnolia Bakery and stick a few thousand candles in some of their legendary buttercream frosting cake, because the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  )  wants to celebrate hardcore. A sizable drop in weekly jobless claims pumped the Dow up 109 points Thursday to close above 16,000 for the first time in its history.

1. Yellen inches closer to Fed chairwomanship
The Oprah of economics... Janet Yellen moved closer to replacing Ben Bernanke as Federal Reserve chair in 2014 after the Senate banking committee voted 14 to eight to push her along in the process -- a surprisingly divisive split for the Fed nominee (CNNMoney).
 
What's taking so long?... Just the usual D.C. approval supply chain. First she had to be nominated by the president, then approved by this single Senate committee on financial affairs. But the final step is coming up, like Frodo finally reaching the depths of Mordor 12 hours into Lord of the Rings: The full Senate will vote on whether to confirm her the Thursday after Thanksgiving.

The takeaway... is that Wall Street gets pumped the closer Yellen gets to the seat. She's made clear that as head of the Fed, she would want to continue the central bank's stimulus policies to keep the nation's recovery going. Investors are fans of the plan to keep interest rates low to encourage borrowing and growth, showing their enthusiasm in Thursday's big market-buying bonanza.
 
2. General Motors rises as the U.S. government officially ends the relationship
What does GM and a 13-year-old Jewish boy have in common? They're finally about to become real men. The Treasury Department announced Thursday that it was selling its remaining government-owned shares of General Motors (NYSE: GM  )  stock by the end of the year (DailyFinance)
 
The Obama administration originally invested $50 billion into GM in 2009 and 2010 during the automotive crisis using TARP funds, and has recouped $38.4 billion of that so far. What was once a 61% ownership stake has fallen to 2.2% today. And if the last 31 million shares were sold at Thursday's stock price, then the total loss to U.S. taxpayers on the GM bailout would be ~$10.4 billion.
 
But the gain for taxpayers is the smoking-new Corvette Stingray and the hundreds of thousands of automotive jobs remaining in the country connected to GM. This new chapter of stand-alone ownership will allow GM to increase dividends to shareholders and pay executives as much as they want (there are limits as long as taxpayers are involved). GM, which has generated billions in profits for each of the past four years, climbed more than 1% on the news.
 
3. Target falls on failing Canadian experiment
Target and Tim Horton's just don't mix well. The discount department store Target (NYSE: TGT  )  announced third-quarter earnings that disappointed for exactly one reason: Canada.  This time last year, Target was an entirely American company with 1,800 stores total in the U.S., but now it's trying to invade our neighbors to the north -- 124 Canadian store openings later, the company may have made a big mistake, eh.  

The stock fell 3.5% after investors learned that Canadian store sales were much weaker than expected on both low volume and prices compared to Target's American cousin-stores. Despite booming sales in youth hockey equipment and BlackBerry accessories (kidding), Target seems surprised that localers aren't thrilled about the new stores in their towns.

Profits dropped from $697 million to $498 million and it's almost entirely explained by losses in the Canadian unit. Analysts will watch to see whether Target can expand globally with success like Wal-Mart (already touched down in 27 countries) or that it's an exceptionally American brand.

Friday:
  • Federal job turnover report, Fed Bank of Kansas City manufacturing index
  • Third-quarter earnings from Foot Locker.
 

Originally published on MarketSnacks.com.


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