Despite its removal from the Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI 0.25%) last year, Bank of America (BAC 2.17%) has given the index a nice boost this morning. Better-than-expected results from the big bank have helped the Dow gain more than 110 points by noon EST, while its own stock has vaulted above the $17 per share mark.

Economic news has been rather sunny, too. The Mortgage Bankers Association announced that mortgage applications rose by nearly 12% last week, compared to 2.6% for the week previous. Refinance loan activity was up 11% week over week, while purchase loan activity picked up by 12%.

The New York Federal Reserve Bank released its Empire State Manufacturing Survey this morning, showing an unexpectedly big jump in its business conditions index, which increased 10 points to 12.5, the highest reading in more than a year. Analysts had expected a mere 3.3 on the index.

As the Dow continues to rise it appears that investors are not very worried about either the publication of the Beige Book, due out at 2 p.m. today, or Chicago Fed President Charles Evans' speech at the Corridor Economic Forecast Luncheon in Iowa at 12:50 p.m.

Banking spotlight belongs to Bank of America today
Following the fourth-quarter earnings reports of JPMorgan Chase (JPM -1.01%) and Wells Fargo, Bank of America made quite a splash. The bank showed the effects of the mortgage slowdown, like its peers, with a decrease of 46% in mortgage business from the year-ago period.

In other areas, however, BofA made great strides. The bank's net interest margin increased to 2.56% from the year-ago 2.35%, while net interest income was up 4%. Noninterest income was up an amazing 28%, thanks to its global wealth unit, as well as decreased provisions for representations and warranties. Fixed income revenue was up 16%, compared to JPMorgan's increase of only 1% .

For its part, JPMorgan is doing swimmingly, up nearly 2% at noon. Analysts are weighing in on the bank, post-earnings, but opinions are mostly positive. Jeffries has reiterated its buy rating and price target of $66 per share, while KBR is a bit more circumspect, keeping its market perform rating and a much lower target price of $55.