Long an exceptionally well-run bank, WFC largely avoided most of the sub-prime mess, but they are still exposed to some questionable home equity loans. So when they announced better than expected results this morning and increased their dividend 10%, the stock reacted favorably.
Actually, that's a bit of an understatement. The stock absolutely blasted off, rising nearly 33%! The last move anywhere near this big for WFC was after the crash of 1987 when it rose 15% in a day. Of course its market cap was a fraction of what it is today. In fact, its market cap increased by $22B (!) today on > 5x normal trading volume, closing on its highs. Wow.
My best guess is there was a "bit" of short covering involved here. The amazing thing is if the shorts can get squeezed this badly in a stock as big and liquid as WFC, what's going to happen in some of the smaller, illiquid, heavily (and likely naked) shorted stocks when the coast really does begin to look clear? Look out above! Sure, many of these stocks probably deserve to be shorted into oblivion. But in my opinion many don't.
As always I have no clue when this will happen. Maybe today is the start. More likely, it is just another bear marker rally, but who knows. Certainly none of the talking heads believe that today marks the start of anything sustainable - a good reason in itself to believe that it might. Whenever it does happen though, I think it's likely to be a violent and extended rally.