Here’s What’s Pushing and Pulling the Dow on Friday

Everybody, put on your party hats! The Dow Jones Industrial Average traded above 14,000 for the first time since 2007 on Friday morning, buoyed by a generally upbeat employment situation report and optimistic manufacturing data from China and Europe.

Friday’s major Dow movers include Pfizer (NYSE:PFE), which is up 1.6 percent as it successfully spins off its animal health subsidiary Zoetis. The new company’s stock climbed as much as 21 percent on its debut, and Pfizer still owns about 80 percent of it. The company also reported strong fourth-quarter and full-year results on January 29.

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Verizon (NYSE:VZ) is riding an upgrade from analysts at Piper Jaffray, who moved the stock from “Neutral” to “Overweight.” The upgrade follows a string of increasingly bullish calls from analysts at Atlantic Securities, New Street Research, and Barclays Capital who have upgraded their ratings or increased their price targets following the company’s strong earnings report on January 22.

Bank of America (NYSE:BAC), the most-heavily traded stock on the Dow, was up nearly 3 percent on Friday afternoon, leading the charge.

Pfizer, Inc. Common Stock Stock Chart - PFE Interactive Chart - Yahoo! Finance

Pretty much the only Dow component raining on the parade is Merck (NYSE:MRK), which was off over 3 percent in early-afternoon trading after releasing its financial results. Fourth-quarter revenue fell 4.5 percent to $11.7 billion, beating estimates by $270 million. Fourth-quarter earnings fell 6.1 percent to $0.46 per share, beating estimates by a penny. Full-year sales dropped 2 percent to $47.3 billion, while earnings climbed 6.9 percent to $2.16 per share.

However, full-year 2013 EPS guidance in a range between $3.60 and $3.70 is a little bearish for some investors. The company comments in its earnings report: “Merck expects full-year 2013 revenues to be near 2012 levels on a constant currency basis. At current exchange rates, sales would be affected unfavorably by approximately 1 to 2 percent for the full year.”

Merck & Company, Inc. Common St Stock Chart - MRK Interactive Chart - Yahoo! Finance

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