And for a day at least, investors were betting on Ben, betting that if the Fed hasn't already done enough, he stands ready to do more. Stay tuned to see if the folks who make the hiring decisions in this country ultimately do the same.
Meantime, the price action in the big banks from here should be telling. Bank of America (BAC - Get Report) and JPMorgan Chase (JPM - Get Report) were the Dow's best performers, and open-ended quantitative easing is about as positive a catalyst as the pair is likely to get. S&P Capital IQ was quick to boost its price target by 12.5% on JPMorgan to $45 from $40 after the Fed decision.
"We see shares benefiting from QE3 mortgage bond buying program, which should lead to lower mortgage rates, giving a further boost to the U.S. housing market, and boosting JPM's revenues and credit quality," the firm said.
Bank of America is suddenly back within shouting distance of $10 again after adding nearly 5% to close at $9.40, its best finish since April 3, while JPMorgan's stock bounced 3.7% to settle at $41.40.As for Friday's scheduled news, it's another nothing day from an earnings standpoint but a raft of economic data should pick up some of the headline slack. The wires will be crowded by retail sales and the consumer price index for August at 8:30 a.m. ET; industrial production and capacity utilization for August at 9:15 a.m. ET; the University of Michigan consumer sentiment index for September at 9:55 a.m. ET; and business inventories for July at 10 a.m. ET. And finally, Analogic (ALOG - Get Report) was a big winner in Thursday's after-hours action. The Peabody, Mass.-based health care technology company reported non-GAAP earnings of $16.6 million, or $1.32 a share, for its fiscal fourth quarter ended in July on revenue of $151 million, up 12% from the year before. On a continuing operations basis, Analogic earned $12.1 million, or 96 cents a share, in the latest quarter. The average estimate of analysts polled by Thomson Reuters was for a profit of 71 cents a share on revenue of $140.8 million. The stock, which was already up 20.7% so far in 2012, was last quoted at $76.75, up an additional 11%, on volume of nearly 90,000, according to Nasdaq.com. Also making news in the extended session was Werner Enterprises (WERN - Get Report), whose shares lost more than 8% after the Omaha, Neb.-based transportation and logistics company said it expects higher costs to weigh on its third-quarter results. The company forecast a profit of 33 to 36 cents a share for the three months ending this month, below the current consensus view for earnings of 44 cents a share. Werner cited "cost increases for truck and trailer depreciation and driver pay" for the outlook, along with higher costs for fuel, health care and equipment maintenance. "These costs are increasing faster than our revenue per mile," Werner said in a brief statement. Prior to the pullback after the bell, the stock was down just 2% year-to-date. -- Written by Michael Baron in New York.
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