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Apple, Bank of America, and the World Celebrate Great News

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Unless you're one of the 80-year old Queens residents who refuses to give up his seat at McDonald's, you're probably toasting a McFlurry shake to the S&P 500's new record high. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  )  jumped 108 points Wednesday on more big bank earnings and fun Apple news.

1. Apple jumps on surprise China success
How 'bout dem Apples? Shares of Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL  )  jumped 2% Wednesday after CEO Tim Cook said the new deal with China Mobile resulted in record iPhone sales last quarter -- that's 1.2 million pre-orders, baby
What's the deal? Last month, Apple announced that it was breaking through the Great Wall so that China Mobile could sell new iPhones to its network of more than 700 million users -- even if the $500-plus phones are much more expensive than General Tso's chicken.

The takeaway is that following Apple's all-time high in 2012, the stock lost half its value by the middle of 2013 as Wall Street waited for some cool new products. Shares are now up 30% though since last August, as Cupertino has unleashed some fancy newer phones globally. And it's good to be liked by China's 1.3 billion.

2. Bank of America kills it with $3.4 billion earnings
Twenty-nine cents per share! It's not an eye-grabbing headline. But it was for Bank of America (NYSE: BAC  ) , since that was better than its 3 cents per share last year. The 867% jump in fourth-quarter profits impressed Wall Street and boosted the stock price 2.3% Wednesday.

Not getting sued is something to celebrate in the fourth quarter of 2013. The year before, B of A set aside $3.8 billion of could-be-profits for future legal settlements (this year it was only $2.3 billion). It also had lower costs in the very important mortgage writing business. Proud Charlotte, N.C., bars are dishing out free drinks for its American housing giant. 

High fives for Brian Moynihan after leading the company to increased revenues in all five of its business units in 2013. Cost-cutting is working (46,000 people have been laid off since he took over in 2010), and his key growth areas are growing. The result is the highest annual profit ($11.4 billion) since 2007. 

3. World Bank raises 2014 world growth optimism
It's a happy world when the World Bank gives you the thumbs-up. The Washington-based institution raised its forecast for planet Earth's economic growth from 3% (set last June) to 3.2% for this year. The New Year is already smelling good.

Why'd they change their mind? Developed countries are lookin' sharp. Econ data for 2013 has shown the U.S. economic recovery picking up steam, and European countries smacked by their 2011 debt crises are starting to pick themselves up. To the World Bank, trade between these nations and poorer countries can only help emerging economies.

Just as a heads-up -- remember that the World Bank isn't like your typical bank. The bank lends money to poor, emerging-market countries, with the goal to eventually erase poverty by helping them develop their economies. It's like that nice guy who gives you a hand when you fell during your last pick-up basketball game.
  • Weekly jobless claims
  • Earnings: Goldman Sachs, Intel
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