The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) certainly looks spiffier this morning that it did yesterday, as markets await a rash of Federal Reserve speakers and banks soar right along with shooting star Bank of America (NYSE:BAC).
With a dearth of economic news hitting the wires Friday, markets seem happy to wait to hear what a handful of Federal Reserve officials have to say as the day wears on. Philadelphia Fed chief Charles Plosser is speaking regarding the inevitable higher interest rate environment the U.S. will experience this year. Richmond Fed President Jeffrey Lacker will discuss the economic outlook at 1 p.m. today.
Federal Reserve Governor Jeremy Stein will give an afternoon speech, while outgoing Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke will talk on "The Changing Federal Reserve: Past, Present and Future," in Philadelphia at 2:30 p.m.
Unfortunately, December motor vehicle sales were a bit of a disappointment, causing the Dow to shed some of its morning gains. General Motors announced a dip in sales of 6% from November, although Ford saw a 2% rise and Chrysler reported an uptick in sales of 5.7%.
Bank of America's gains spread good cheer
With the Dow up by seven points by late morning, banks are still feeling pretty peppy. Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM) are up by 0.50% and 0.64%, respectively, despite news that the Federal Housing Finance Agency last year squeezed almost $8 billion out of the big banks on behalf of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac over crummy mortgage securities sold during the heady pre-financial crisis era.
Once again, JPMorgan has made news regarding insider-trading shenanigans. The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority has banned a former JPMorgan broker from the brokerage industry for passing on insider information to another broker in a $9 million trading plot. The former broker, David Gutman, may face disciplinary action, as well.
Absent any spectacular news regarding big banks, it seems likely that Bank of America's skyrocketing fortunes may be rubbing off on its brethren. After making great strides following a stellar report from Citigroup analysts yesterday, BofA has built on that momentum – adding another 1.8% to its share price shortly before the noon hour. This puts the big bank well above the $16 per share mark, something it hasn't seen since May 2010.