The Dow came out swinging yesterday and eked out a gain today to start off 2012 on an up note. The S&P 500 followed suit, but the Nasdaq fell ever so slightly.



Ending Value

Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI) +21.04 [+0.17%] 12,418.42
Nasdaq (INDEX: ^IXIC) -0.36 [-0.01%] 2,648.36
S&P 500 (INDEX: ^GSPC) +0.24 [0.02%] 1,277.30

There was low volume today, but the most upbeat news came from the U.S. auto sector, with Ford posting a 10% vehicle sales gain in December.

Meanwhile, oil futures closed at their highest point in eight months (back to May 10). You can see a similar run-up from United States Oil (NYSE: USO), an ETF that seeks to track oil futures contracts (for a 0.65% fee) or oil major ExxonMobil. On the former, beware of tracking errors between futures and spot prices.

And gold stayed above $1,600, moving up 0.79% to $1,612.60 (February futures). The most popular gold ETF, SPDR Gold Trust (NYSE: GLD), followed along and closed up 0.51% to 156.71.

Looking at individual stocks, Alcoa, Microsoft, and Intel led the Dow gainers with 2.4%, 2.4%, and 2.3% increases. There was no major company-specific news on any of the three, but in about a week Alcoa will report earnings and the Consumer Electronics Show will kick off.

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