'Fast Money' Recap: Roaring Start

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The markets rang in the new year with a bang.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped 93.24, or 0.81%, to 11,670.75, while the S&P 500 rose 14.23, or 1.13%, to 1,271.87. The Nasdaq jumped 85.85, or 1.46%, to 2,691.52.

Melissa Lee, the moderator of CNBC's "Fast Money" TV show, said today's big trading day marked the best showing in seven years.

Pete Najarian said it was a "strong start" for the market, with the critical factor being the return of volume. He said 16.5 million options traded today, with strong interest in the financials, commodities and rail.

Karen Finerman, though, was puzzled by today's strong response because she couldn't figure out what happened between today and last Friday to warrant the jump.

Tim Seymour was enthused about the positive manufacturing data from the U.S. and Europe, noting this will be good for China.

Guy Adami was impressed with today's market action. He said investors now have a benchmark of 1,280 in the S&P to "grade against." He said stocks look a little rich, with a lot of people looking for prices to come down.

Leading today's bullish start to the new year were tech stocks, spearheaded by Apple ( AAPL) and Amazon.com ( AMZN), which new 52-week highs.

Najarian said Apple is benefitting from its Mac sales and its iPhone deal with Verizon ( VZ). "There are a lot of catalysts out there, including a new iPad," he said.

Weighing in on Apple, Yair Reiner, an analyst with Oppenheimer & Co., was bullish on the stock. He said Apple is growing 70% a year with a lot of runway in all markets.

He said the biggest worry is from Android in the smartphone market, but he argued that Apple commands the iPad space because Apple has been so aggressive in pricing its product that it has made it difficult for competitors to produce products at the same price level. He has a price target of $385 for Apple.

He also said Hewlett-Packard ( HPQ), could be a sleeper this year, with its P/E in single digits and its potential growth in the enterprise area.

Lee said Bank of America ( BAC) was up more than 6% after it agreed to buy back $2.8 billion worth of bad loans from Fannie Mae ( FNM) and Freddie Mac ( FRE). The price was far below the $12 billion to $15 billion analysts had expected.

Chris Whalen, an analyst with Institutional Risk Analytics, said the discounted price was a "shocker" that amounted to a Christmas gift from Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. He said he was upgrading the stock to neutral, adding he still expects some noise from the stock. He also said the buyback focused only on loans from 2204 and 2008, and not the "rancid" ones in 2009.

Commodities were also the rise today before gold and copper turned over. Adami was worried about the rollover. Najarian was also concerned about the reversal in Freeport McMoRan ( FCX) and bought some puts.

Lee noted that Barnes & Noble ( BKS) was up 9% on strong sales of its Nook.

Finerman was suspicious of the jump, adding she got out of her short position in the stock. She said the company hasn't adapted quickly enough to the e-reader, although she acknowledged the company will benefit from the demise of Borders ( BGP).

Commenting on Alcoa ( AA), which rose today on a bump to a buy from hold, Jorge Beristain, an analyst for Deutsche Bank who made the call, said that he expects aluminum to hit $1.20 a pound in 2011 and $1.30 a pound in 2012. He said ETF demand alone will lift aluminum 3 to 4 pennies a pound.

Seymour was skeptical of the comments, saying Alcoa is an expensive stock and investors might be better off with aluminum companies in other parts of the globe.

Commenting on December auto sales numbers that are being released Tuesday, Najarian said General Motors is making an incredible move to the upside, as it heads toward $50. Adami said he would trim back on Ford ( F) as it bumps against the $17, a price level it's had difficulty overcoming.

Shifting to China, David Reidel, president of Reidel Research Group, was very concerned with consumer pessimism over food and housing prices. He said consumer sentiment has fallen through the floor for another month, with few tools available to the government to combat inflation.

However, he said China's economy continues to do well, which is good news to the commodity trade.

In a new segment called "Currency Trade of the Week," Kathy Lien, author of The Little Book on Currency Trading, recommended buying the Australian dollar on dips.

She said fundamentally, Australia's economy is strong, enjoying record job growth. She said the currency is also strong technically and on a global sentiment basis.

In the final trades, Seymour liked Melco Crown Entertainment ( MPEL). Adami liked Eastman Chemical ( EMN), while Finerman liked Daimler ( DAI). Najarian went with Nike ( NKE) while Kelly liked Morgan Stanley ( MS).

--Written by David Tong in San Francisco.

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