The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI) closed basically flat -- again. But there were a few interesting pieces of news and a few moderately large gainers:


Price Change

Bank of America (NYSE: BAC) 1.1%
Cisco (Nasdaq: CSCO) 1.1%
American Express (NYSE: AXP) 1%

As foreshadowed by reports of strong demand for switches in recent weeks, Cisco announced strong second-quarter earnings today. Earnings per share grew more than 17% to $0.47 per share, while revenue grew 4%. Cisco's CEO called the quarter "unusually strong," and investors will want to keep an eye on whether Cisco's continues to show steady improvement, or whether the great quarter was a one-time thing -- particularly in light of Europe's recession.

There was only a bit of news to justify Bank of America and American Express' gains today. The National Association of Homebuilders' sentiment index rose slightly, and industrial production in August rose 0.6% from July. Steady improvement in the housing market and anything suggestive of jobs and income growth can be considered good signs for large mortgage and consumer lenders like B of A and AmEx.

Bank of America, Cisco, and American Express all beat the market, but as investors it's also important for us to remember to keep our eyes on long-term performance. If you're looking for some more stock ideas, The Motley Fool recently highlighted "The 3 Dow Stocks Dividend Investors Need." You can get the full scoop on these three promising Dow dividend dynamos.