It wasn't a volatile week on Wall Street, but stocks did end the week at another record high, continuing a long bull run. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) was up 0.97% for the week, and the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) gained 1.19%. Both indexes ended to week at record closing levels.
UnitedHealth Group (NYSE:UNH) was up 6.8% this week to lead the Dow. On Monday, an analyst projected that United Health would be able to grow Medicare Advantage enrollment despite reimbursement cuts. After concerns about government cuts hit health-care companies in early 2013, there's now growing understanding that Obamacare or cuts to Medicare won't slash profits. One of the reasons is the insurance lobby, which has been able to bend policy to make sure companies like UnitedHealth are still posting solid profits.
Shares of Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) rose 6.4% this week, most of which was gained in a run-up on Monday. That's when the megabank reached a $1.6 billion cash settlement with mortgage insurer MBIA. The deal settles a series of financial tie-ups between the two companies that go as far back as the financial crisis. Essentially a burden was lifted from Bank of America, and investors think the company was able to negotiate a favorable deal because MBIA was on the brink of bankruptcy.
Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) rounds out the top three stocks this week after gaining 4.4%. There's speculation swirling that Carl Icahn could merge Dell and HP's PC businesses in an effort to extract value from the two companies. Icahn has a large stake in Dell, and there are rumors he's building a position in HP to execute the merger. So far, this is just speculation, but you never know what Icahn has up his sleeve.