Wow! What a quarter. All three major indexes came out swinging and had impressive gains marked by surprisingly little volatility. Given the seemingly daily questions regarding Greece defaulting (technically yes), the domestic economy finally recovering (a strong maybe), and Linsanity's sustainability (resoundingly on hold), what we've seen is astonishing.
With that in mind, let's take a closer look at how the major indexes closed the first quarter and then take a closer look at three Dow components that performed even better for investors.
Gain / Loss
Gain / Loss %
Dow Jones Industrial Average
Source: Yahoo! Finance.
These are historical returns. The Nasdaq saw its best performance since 1991. That's right; not even the go-go dot-com boom of the late '90s that propelled the index above 4,500 saw a three-month stretch that topped the opening quarter of 2012. Not to be left out of the record books, the Dow and S&P 500 both notched their largest percentage gains since 1998 and their largest first-quarter points gains since, well, ever. The average Dow component turned in a gain of 11.2%, but several companies fared significantly better.
So which companies were responsible for setting the Dow ablaze in 2012? Financials largely dominate the top spots, with charge-card king American Express and its 22.7% gain just missing the cut for a top-three spot by a mere 150 basis points. But the real champs are the Wall Street banks, with JPMorgan Chase
Tech giant Microsoft
A better approach
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David Williamson holds no position in any company mentioned. Check out his holdings and a short bio. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, and Microsoft. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Apple and Microsoft, creating bull call spread positions in Microsoft and Apple, and creating a write covered strangle position in American Express. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.
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