The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended higher today, up 23.88 points, or 0.23 percent, as investors saw signs that the economic stimulus policies of the Obama administration and Bernanke-led Federal Reserve may continue.
Large-cap stocks gained more than mid-cap and small-cap stocks, with the Dow Jones U.S. Large-Cap Index gaining 0.46 percent.
Financials and technology stocks were among the top gainers today as investors look ahead to Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) earnings after the market closes. Apple gained 2.59 percent during the day. It gained 0.73 percent in after-hours trading. The firm earned $3.67 per share in its first fiscal quarter, beating Wall Street expectations of $2.07.
The dollar was relatively flat against the yen and euro today and oil edge up to trade at $75.15.
After a scare over his confirmation for a second term last week, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke is steadily gaining support. Over the weekend, President Obama made phone calls to various Senators and was assured that Bernanke had enough votes.
Bernanke has also gained the endorsement of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and the approval, if not the endorsement, of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
McConnell stated that Bernanke can expect bipartisan support. Such comments from the Republican Senate leader may lessen the possibility that the Republicans will resort to a filibuster to block Bernanke’s confirmation should the votes in favor fall short of 60.
According to the latest tallies, 35 Senators support Bernanke’s confirmation, 17 do not support it, and 29 are still undecided. Among the notable members of the Bernanke opposition are four Democrats and Senator John McCain of Arizona.
Bernanke’s detractors cite his responsibility in contributing to the financial crisis, the lack of transparency and loss of public confidence, and the irresponsible stewardship of taxpayer money as the main reasons for rejecting his bid.
In a press release earlier today, The White House reiterated its resolve to help a burdened middle class that is struggling in this recession. The statement said that “the most important thing we can do for the middle class is strengthen the economy and help the private sector create jobs.”
Both President Obama and Vice President Biden voiced their commitment to getting the economy back on track and creating good-paying jobs for the middle class.
According CNN’s bailout tracker, the Bernanke-led Fed Reserve, along with the White House, plans to spend $11 trillion on the bailout; $3 trillion has already been spent, leaving roughly $8 trillion to go, if government fully follows up on its plans.
The bailout figure includes various housing related initiatives, a long list of bank bailouts, FDIC takeovers, and various tax cuts.
In addition to stimulus fiscal policies, Bernanke has maintained an extremely easy monetary policy, keeping the interest at near zero since December of 2008.