The Sky’s the Limit Today for the Dow

Mr. Market is having a special day today, just one day ahead of the Federal Open Market Committee meeting, at which there is likely to be a decision made on the winding down of quantitative easing.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) soared early on,and has been keeping itself lofty so far today. By noon, it has gained more than 145 points, after dropping slightly from an earlier gain exceeding 165 points. Good economic news from Europe gave the Dow an early lift, followed by some positive readings on the domestic front.

The Federal Reserve's Industrial Production report for November was a big hit, registering an increase of 1.1% in November -- the largest increase since last November's 1.3% jump -- following October's meager rise of 0.1%. Manufacturing output rose 0.6% for the fourth consecutive monthly increase.

Investors seem calm shortly before the FOMC meeting commences, perhaps finally feeling comfortable with the knowledge that QE3's days are numbered. Most analysts seem to be of the mind that the taper will begin very early in 2014, and these predictions are not upsetting the markets the slightest bit. Some economists are even noting that the taper is good news, since it means the economy is healthy enough to support the slow tapering of the Fed's easy money policy.

Big banks join the party
Both JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM  ) and Goldman Sachs are each up about at lunch time, sharing in the jovial mood on the Dow. JPMorgan may have gotten a boost from a Reuters article earlier today, which showcased the bank's softer side. Starting next month, the bank will cover health expenses tied to the treatment of autism, only one of about 15 Fortune 100 companies to do so. The bank notes that this benefit was often requested by employees.

More bad news regarding former Dow component Bank of America (NYSE: BAC  ) could be making JPMorgan look better by comparison, as well. Bloomberg published early Monday an inside look at BofA's foreclosure practices, profiling a slew of contractors hired by Bank of America to process complaints regarding its participation in the Home Affordable Modification Program -- and noting how the end effect was decidedly negative for borrowers, as homeowners were ignored and stonewalled at nearly every turn.

Bank of America has been battling this issue for some time, as former employees have alleged that they were rewarded for giving desperate homeowners the runaround. So far, at least, BofA isn't suffering any aftershocks from the article, though that could change later in the day.

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