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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David Williamson holds no position in any company mentioned. Check out his holdings and a short bio. The Motley Fool owns shares of Microsoft, IBM, and Intel. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Intel and Microsoft, creating a synthetic covered call position in Microsoft, creating a synthetic long position in IBM, and creating a write covered strangle position in American Express. 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. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.