The Dow was up as much as 1.2% in early morning trading today before settling back down to a 0.48% by day's end. Before we get to the why, here is where the Dow and the other two major indices finished the day:

Index

Change

Ending Value

Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI) +60.01 [+0.48%] 12,482.07
Nasdaq (INDEX: ^IXIC) +17.41 [+0.64%] 2,728.08
S&P 500 (INDEX: ^GSPC) +4.58 [+0.36%] 1,293.67

Stealing the headlines from Europe, China drove the early gains. It reported higher-than-expected GDP growth for the fourth quarter: 8.9% vs. an expected 8.6%. Other favorable economic news included various stimulating actions by the Chinese government. The Chinese stock market indices themselves were up 4% to 5%.

On the negative front, banking weighed down the Dow. The KBW Bank Index (INDEX: ^BKX) was down 1.4% despite a good quarterly report from Wells Fargo. It was Citigroup's (NYSE: C) disappointing earnings that drove the banking losses. Citigroup was down 8.2% for the day and is likely to blame for the pessimism around the two biggest Dow losers: JPMorgan Chase [-2.8%] and Bank of America [-2%], which reports before the market opens on Thursday.

Read more about the Wells and Citi earnings announcements.

But beyond banking, it was a day of winners, with 23 of the 30 Dow components rising. Merck, Cisco, and United Technologies led the winners, up 1.3% each.

So it looks like Citigroup and banking in general (except Wells) had a bad day today while most of the rest of the market was up. But, as always, remember to keep all the daily (and even quarterly) noise in perspective. Invest for the long term. And if you're looking for a long-term stock pick, our chief investment officer has identified his No. 1 stock for the next year. Find out which stock he likes in our brand-new free report: "The Motley Fool's Top Stock for 2012." I invite you to take a copy, free for a limited time. Get access to the report and find out the name of this legendary company.

Anand Chokkavelu owns shares of Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citigroup, and Cisco. He also owns warrants in JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, and Citigroup, and long-dated options in Bank of America. The Fool owns shares of Cisco Systems and Wells Fargo, has created a bull call spread position on Cisco Systems, and has created a covered strangle position on Wells Fargo. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Cisco Systems. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.