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What Pulled the Dow Back From the Brink Today

By Dan Caplinger - Apr 5, 2013 at 8:00PM

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The stock market was down, but not nearly as badly as it had been earlier in the day.

The 170-point opening plunge for the Dow Jones Industrials (^DJI 1.76%) raised many fears that the long-awaited correction for the U.S. stock market was finally at hand. Coming on the heels of an extremely disappointing jobs report, the Dow's decline showed that fears of overall economic weakness were finally starting to break the complacent attitude that most investors have maintained, even through the Cypriot banking crisis, and other more remote global economic difficulties. Yet, by the end of the day, that fear had apparently subsided, and the Dow closed with a loss of just 41 points.

A couple of Dow stocks even managed sizable gains on the day. Boeing (BA 3.52%) jumped 1.4% on news of another successful test flight in its attempt to get its 787 Dreamliner back in the air after battery problems grounded the aircraft back in January. According to a press release, today's flight completed the necessary final certification test for the battery system, and now, the company will gather and analyze data, and work with the FAA in hopes of getting the Dreamliner up and flying again as soon as possible.

JPMorgan Chase (JPM 1.41%) also defied the Dow decline, rising nearly 1%. Late in the day, a Bloomberg report cited a draft copy of legislation that would require JPMorgan and other major banks with assets of $400 billion or more to hold higher amounts of capital than standards under the Basel III accord. With some lawmakers citing the competitive advantages that big banks have over their smaller rivals as justifying the higher capital standards, JPMorgan will face substantial political resistance if it tries to extricate itself from the higher standards.

Finally, several energy companies did well today, with oil and gas exploration company Ultra Petroleum (UPL) soaring more than 7%, and Arch Coal (NYSE: ACI) rising more than 5%. Speculation that natural gas prices may have finally bottomed out lifted several smaller nat-gas producers in the space, which have suffered for a long time from a glut of the clean-burning fuel. Meanwhile, Arch Coal and other coal producers have hoped for nat-gas to return to more sustainable levels, because rising gas prices could end the trend among utility customers to switch from coal to gas, and therefore boost demand and prices for coal. Even with prices having risen to nearly $4 from around $1.80 last April, natural gas could have further to run on the upside.

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Stocks Mentioned

Dow Jones Industrial Average (Price Return) Stock Quote
Dow Jones Industrial Average (Price Return)
^DJI
$33,212.96 (1.76%) $575.77
The Boeing Company Stock Quote
The Boeing Company
BA
$132.23 (3.52%) $4.50
JPMorgan Chase & Co. Stock Quote
JPMorgan Chase & Co.
JPM
$131.27 (1.41%) $1.83
Ultra Petroleum Corp. Stock Quote
Ultra Petroleum Corp.
UPL

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

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