With the help of a rather satisfactory earnings season thus far, the markets have been on a joy ride lately. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) is up 6.8% year to date. As of 1:25 p.m. EST today, it's up 1% to 14,004 on the day -- just 160 points away from its all-time high of 14,164. This marks the first time since October 2007 that the Dow has breached 14,000 points.
The other two major U.S. indexes are also on a tear today. The S&P 500 is up 1%, while the NASDAQ is 1.2% higher.
The Dow can thank all but one of its components for the move higher today, as Merck is currently the only Dow loser. Telecoms AT&T (NYSE:T) and Verizon (NYSE:VZ) are among the big winners today, with shares up 2% each. A new law that takes effect tomorrow will make it illegal for customers to unlock their smartphones and move to different service providers. Investors are bidding up these companies today because the law should bolster wireless providers' customer-retention rates, as individuals will be unable to move to lower-priced service providers who do not offer the top-of-the-line smartphones.
Shares of both of the Dow's big banks are also surging today. Bank of America is up 3.4%, while JPMorgan Chase's (NYSE:JPM) stock has gained 1.9%. The banking industry as a whole is getting stronger, and investors are expecting a clean bill of health for both companies when the Federal Reserve announces its results from the stress tests in March.
Lastly, Travelers Companies (NYSE:TRV) is up 2.2% today, adding to yesterday's 1.1% rise. With no company-specific news out, I recently noted that volume was dramatically higher than usual and that the company is doing better than many had feared thanks to lower-than-expected losses from Superstorm Sandy. Additionally, the insurance industry as a whole has been able to increase prices, which will pay off handsomely in the near future. Large institutional buyers are likely the cause for the great performance thus far in 2013, as the stock is up 11.6% year to date.