STOCKS STAGE SNAPBACK RALLY, OIL SURGES, BUT BANKS ARE SICK: Here's What You need To Know

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This was the day the bulls have been waiting for for a while.But first, the scoreboard:

Dow: +123.14
NASDAQ: +39.03
S&P 500: +16.07

And now, the top stories:

  • There were two big bullish jolts to the market today. The first came in China. At around 10:00 PM ET, US time, there was a slew of data showing that the wheels aren’t coming off the Chinese economy completely. Retail sales were strong, and industrial production surpassed estimates. Yes, inflation was hot, too, but nobody minded much. Perhaps that was even comforting, indicating that we’re still showing more signs of overheating than underheating. In the early hours of the US day, the PBOC hiked the reserve requirement ratio by 50 basis points. The markets didn’t mind. Everything was rallying.
  • The other big piece of good news was the US retail sales number at 8:30 AM ET. Yes, the headline was down, but the -0.2% decline was much less than the expected decline, and stripping out food and gasoline, retail sales grew 0.3%, which was better than estimates. Stocks were already up by this point, and that just made it more so.
  • One weird story: An analyst briefly created a panic predicting a Portugal default on Wednesday. He then had to correct an error he made.
  • Other than that, it was a fairly news-light day. Consistent with the general “risk on” mood, Treasuries sold off, and oil rallied. Bernanke warned about a crisis if the debt ceiling wasn’t lifted, but probably didn’t say anything too surprising. 
  • There were two notable — and very different — earnings. The first came from Best Buy — which has been a real dog lately, but actually beat expectations and maintained guidance. On the other hand, Sino-Forest came out with earnings, and said the independent reports from its auditors wouldn’t be available for 2-3 months. The alleged fraud got crushed some more. A big surprise winner on the day was JC Penney, which hired away Apple’s retail guru. The stock went nuts on the news, netting BIll Ackman a gigantic payday.
  • Looking for one big reason to worry? Look up quotes of Citigroup and Bank of America.
  • Click here for 10 big reasons to stay up awake at night >

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