The Biggest Stock Market Stories of 2012


NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- As European debt woes continue to linger and the U.S. economy struggles to gain solid footing, 2012 promises to be another volatile year. Here are the major events that have impacted global markets so far this year.


Date: January 25

Dow Jones Industrial Average: +83.1 points, or 0.7%, at 12,759

S&P 500: 11.4 points, or 0.9%, at 1326.

Nasdaq +31.7 points, or 1.1%, at 2818.

Top Story: The Fed pledges low interest rates through late 2014

Market Postmortem: Stocks surged after the Federal Open Market Committee announced its intent to keep the benchmark federal funds rate at its current low level at least through late 2014, extending an earlier pledge to keep the rate low through mid-2013.

"To support a stronger economic recovery and help ensure that inflation, over time, is at levels consistent with the dual mandate, the FOMC expects to maintain a highly accommodative stance for monetary policy," the FOMC said in a statement.

The FOMC also made no new policy steps, rebuking speculation that a third round of quantitative easing would be announced. However, Operation Twist is not scheduled to conclude until June.

Fed Chairman Bernanke said the committee does not feel the economy has yet reached a point when interest rates can inch up. "We continue to see headwinds emanating from Europe, coming from the slowing global economy," Bernanke said during a press conference. "I don't think we're ready to declare that we've entered a new, stronger phase at this point. We'll continue to look at the data."

Blockbuster earnings from Apple ( AAPL), released after the market closed on Jan. 24, also fueled market. Apple reported earnings of $13.06 billion, or $13.87 a share, on revenue of $46.33 billion for the quarter ended Dec. 31. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected a profit of $10.15 a share on revenue of just more than $39 billion. Shares were soared 6.2% to $446.66.

"What we learned last night was that in one six-month period, Apple did to the tablet market what it took multiple years to do with the music distribution system," said Jim Cramer, RealMoney columnist and Action Alerts PLUS portfolio manager. "It wiped out the competition and that's how it sold more than 15 million iPads this quarter."

After the market closed, Netflix ( NFLX) shares gapped higher following a better than expected fourth-quarter earnings report and first-quarter revenue guidance.

The online content company reported earnings of 73 cents per share on $876 million in revenue. Wall Street analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected Netflix to earn 55 cents per share on $857.89 million in revenue. The company added 610,000 total U.S. subscribers during the quarter for a total of 24.4 million subscribers. Of that 610,000 subscriber addition, 220,000 were streaming only subscribers. International subscribers grew 380,000, to a total of 1.86 million streaming subscribers.

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