The Dow Jones Industrial Average (Index: ^DJI) is on the verge of busting out of its slump. That's right: After four straight losing sessions, todays solid 88-point, or 0.7%, gain should hold through the rest of the session. Despite this achievement, the Dow is underperforming the other two major indexes, as the S&P 500 is up just over 1%, while the Nasdaq is running away with a 1.4% increase.
Given that technology is a top-performing sector, gaining 1.5% and trailing only energy's 1.7% increase, it should be no surprise that the Nasdaq is seeing outsized gains. Volatility, which everyone said was making a comeback the other day, is plunging more than 10%, as per the Vix (Index: ^VIX).
What caused this sudden reversal? As much as I want to credit the end of a national nightmare -- replacement refs ruining NFL games -- a positive jobs report and Spanish budget details are doing the heavy lifting.
Protests in Greece and Spain had markets jittery, but a new budget that focuses on budget cuts instead of tax increases has calmed the situation. Spain's Banco Santandar (NYSE:SAN) is up more than 2% on the news, and it's not the only one. The Dow's top gainers are the two Wall Street firms Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) up 2.4%, and JPMorgan, gaining 1.6%.
But neither can top General Electric's (NYSE:GE) 2.5% increase. GE has has a large banking component and is also being rewarded for landing $1.2 billion in contracts after debuting a new energy-efficient, gas-powered turbine . As for Spain, harsh austerity will continue to depress the economy as the highly indebted nations attempt to get their budgets back under control.
Here at home, things are looking brighter, as more jobs were created last month than originally thought (386,000, to be precise) and initial claims fell by 26,000. If the housing -- or at least homebuilding -- recovery is not another pump-fake, then perhaps this frustratingly slow recovery is finally picking up steam.
David Williamson owns shares of General Electric, but he holds no other position in any company mentioned. Click here to see his holdings and a short bio. The Motley Fool owns shares of Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. We Fools may not 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.