Stocks rallied to solid gains today as good news from Merrill Lynch and better-than-expected jobless claims data overshadowed poor housing and durable-goods news, MarketWatch reports. The Dow gained 85.73 to close at 12,848.95, while the Nasdaq rose 23.71 to 2,428.92. The S&P 500 gained 8.89, ending at 1,388.82.
Merrill led a rally in financials after the brokerage announced it would maintain its dividend at 35 cents per share. Aiding the rise of financial stocks, insurer Traveler raised its earnings forecast for the remainder of 2008. “Justified or not, people's perception is we've seen the worst,” said one analyst. “The mentality is to be putting money to work in the market.''