After trading lower throughout much of the morning, stocks staged a lunchtime comeback that continued until the closing bell. Right now, major lawmakers could sneeze and move the markets, and, although today's move was caused by a little more substance than that, it's almost what caused the upturn. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) finished up 59 points, or 0.45%, to close at 13,311 Thursday, on the news that House Speaker John Boehner pledged to continue working with Obama to reach a fiscal cliff deal.
Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) once again led the index into the black, bolting 2.9% higher. When the markets react to macro news like they did today, Bank of America shares have tended to make more exaggerated swings than blue chip counterparts. The stock has more than doubled this year amid a slowly improving domestic economy.
Global pharmaceutical giant Merck (NYSE:MRK) was the most notable exception to the Dow's optimism today, sliding 3.4%. The company reported it would abandon efforts to get a cholesterol drug in their pipeline, Tredaptive, approved by the FDA. Not only did Tredaptive fail to reduce heart and stroke symptoms in a study, but it increased other health risks, as well.
Another big mover in the health-care area today was $1.6 billion Allscripts (NASDAQ:MDRX), a medical information software company. Shares, which are down more than 50% year to date, fell 14% today, as the company announced a new president and CEO to replace Glen Tullman, who's been at Allscripts' helm since 1997.
BlackBerry maker Research in Motion (NYSE:BB), which has swung wildly throughout the year, added 3.6% on Thursday, in anticipation of its quarterly results. After the announcement this afternoon, shares spiked as much as 9%. Despite falling sales and profits, the company beat lowly analyst expectations, losing only $0.22 per share against a projected loss of $0.35 per share. RIM has been on the decline in the past few years, as other devices and operating systems have captured the zeitgeist of the mobile market.
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