With the best third quarter since 2010 in the books, stocks continued their strong performance to kick off the 2012 home stretch -- at least until Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke spoke and markets faded into the afternoon. However, that's just noise, as Bernanke reiterated the Fed's position and didn't make any new policy.
The big news of the day was what kicked off the rally to begin with -- strong manufacturing data. Expectations were for another decline, but the Institute for Supply Management index clocked in at 51.5 (anything above 50 indicates economic expansion). While there could be some monthly noise, reversing the negative trend haunting the sector over the summer does more for our recovery than any Ben Bernanke speech.
With that in mind, the Dow Jones Industrial Average
The manufacturing news certainly boosted the Dow's financials, none more so than American Express
Most importantly, the Dow's heaviest weighted component, IBM
Another tech titan, Microsoft
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