The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) has been enjoying its longest winning streak since 1996, and the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) is nearing its own record high. Though the Dow struggled to stay positive during a couple of recent sessions, yesterday it closed a solid 83.8 points higher, showing that the continued records are not a fluke.
But today's markets are looking a bit more cautious, with the Dow 0.21% lower and the S&P down 0.13% at noon. Though there are continued concerns about the federal budget, many analysts believe the latest round of records owes to the improving labor market and a swing of funds flowing out of money markets and fixed-income and into equities -- so the trend has plenty of steam left.
Plenty of positive economic news today should help the index rise back to at least breakeven for the day. The consumer price index rose 0.7% last month -- the largest increase in almost four months -- thanks largely to the gas-price spike we saw in February. The Empire State Manufacturing Survey, though little changed from February, stayed in positive territory for the second month in a row. This new streak followed six straight months of negative results. The only negative news this morning was an almost six-point drop in the University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index, which came in at 71.6 for March. Stocks dropped significantly after the data was released.
The Dow may be seeing red this morning, but Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) is getting the green light -- from the Fed, that is. The Fed released its second round of stress-test results after the market closed yesterday, including its approvals and denials of U.S. banks' capital plans. Bank of America was the most watched bank going into these stress tests, and in receiving no objections from the Fed for its capital plan, B of A has gotten a real boost from the news. It's up 3.5% so far in today's session.
Fellow Dow component JPMorgan (NYSE:JPM), isn't faring so well. JPMorgan is down 1.8% after the Fed said the bank's capital plan had weaknesses that were "significant enough to need immediate attention." JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs were the only two banks to receive that feedback from the Fed. Goldman is currently up 0.5%, showing that the news didn't worry its investors as much as it did JPMorgan's. But at least the Fed approved JPMorgan's and Goldman's capital plans -- with conditions. Meanwhile, Ally FInancial and BB&T were flat-out denied.