The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) broke its four-day losing streak today, barely, with a gain of two points, or 0.02%. Still, it was the worst week for the blue chips since late May, when stocks bottomed out. More good economic news in the form of a five-year high in consumer sentiment led to an early gain. That reading jumped to a preliminary October figure of 83.1 from just 78.3 in September, its highest standing since September 2007, and well ahead of the 78.5 the market was expecting.
Later in the day, comments from IMF Director Christine Lagarde stemmed the morning gains when she said that policymakers in Europe and the United States need to move more aggressively to address slow economic growth and high unemployment.
Financial stocks led the losers today, as the market seemed to say "not enough" to JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM) and Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC), which topped earnings estimates in their pre-market reports. Both banks were buoyed by an improving housing market, as JPMorgan posted an EPS of $1.40 on expectations of $1.21, and Wells Fargo turned in earnings of $0.88 cents per share, a penny ahead of estimates. The market reaction toward the banks seemed to indicate dubiousness that future earnings will not grow as fast as they have been growing, as the financial institutions are forced to deal with tighter regulations and lend to riskier customers in order to grow. JPMorgan fell 1.1%, while Wells Fargo, which missed revenue estimates, dropped 2.6%. Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) fell 2.4% as a tandem play and will report next week.
Boeing (NYSE:BA) led the Dow advancers, gaining 1.4% after inking a deal with Alaska Airlines for 50 737 planes, worth a total of $5 billion, the largest purchase in the airline's history. Alaska Airlines will also spend an additional $1.2 billion on jet engines from General Electric. Elsewhere, Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) rose 1.1%, as expectations around Windows 8 are growing. Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) began taking pre-orders for the new operating system today. Finally, Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) was the only other Dow stock to gain more than 1%, as Jefferies bank upgraded the stock after a bullish run over the last few months, capped with news earlier this week that the retail giant would begin same-day deliveries.
For investors looking to get an inside look at the banking sector, I recommend picking up a copy of our premium report on Bank of America. It features opportunities and risks that investors need to watch in the volatile stock, as well as a year's worth of free updates as a bonus. To get your copy now, just click right here.