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It looks like the positive "January Effect" is still in play as the market rallied to close with two of three major indices up, while gold added 9.9 points, oil lost 1.7 points, and the euro continued its slide against the dollar.
We had an amalgamation of macro reports, with possibly the most notable an analyst note from Morgan Stanley predicting a slowing economy in the first half of 2012 leading to a new round of quantitative easing by the Federal Reserve. Talk of a slowdown flies in the face of most of the recent economic reports including better jobs data, improved stability in Europe, and a healing housing market.
With that in mind, it is encouraging that the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI ) rallied back from a 134-point deficit to just under a 3-point decline, essentially leaving it flat. The S&P 500 also closed up, managing a 0.3% gain. The Nasdaq ended up the with the largest gain at 0.81%, more than erasing its 0.01% loss yesterday.
Inside the Dow, it was no surprise that given the positive economic indicators on one hand and on the other an increased likelihood that the Fed will come to the rescue with QE3 if those indicators prove illusory, the big gainers were financials. Bank of America (NYSE: BAC ) , rose an impressive 8.6% and crossed the $6-per-share mark with authority. Fellow Wall Street titan JPMorgan Chase (Nasdaq: JPM ) managed a solid 2.1% increase itself, and credit card maven American Express (NYSE: AXP ) climbed 1.2%
The best-performing stock of all all today belonged to the Nasdaq: Prostate-cancer vaccine maker Dendreon (Nasdaq: DNDN ) closed up almost 40%. The biotech came crashing down last year after a challenging launch of its drug Provenge couldn't support the lofty valuation. Things may be getting on back on track as Dendreon reported better-than-expected sales of Provenge for the fourth quarter. However, it should be noted that sales growth declined from last quarter's 30%, and management is sticking with its "modest" estimates. After losing nearly 80% of its value in 2011, Dendreon has a chance to outperform this year if it can reassure doctors that reimbursement for the $93,000 treatment will be relatively pain-free.
All told, it appears the market is continuing a positive trend to kick off the year. It's worth watching with a close eye to see how the market closes this week and this month. If January ends on an up note, past trends have it foreshadowing a strong annual performance.
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