News that Apple would start paying a dividend and do a large share-buyback program to return part of its nearly $100 billion cash hoard to investors helped pull the stock market up slightly today. But even given that, the sheer magnitude of the market's run upward lately kept gains muted. As of around 1:45 p.m. EDT, the Dow Jones Industrials (INDEX: ^DJI ) were up 33 points to 13,266, while the S&P 500 was up nine points to 1,413.
Among Dow stocks, Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT ) was up about 0.4%. Uncertainty about when Congress might pass a broad-based transportation bill could be holding the stock back, as increased U.S. infrastructure spending could help the construction equipment maker boost domestic growth. Lately, Caterpillar has gotten more of its sales growth from overseas markets.
Merck (NYSE: MRK ) fell a few cents on the session. The company said that it would discontinue developing the oral formulation of Cardiome's atrial fibrillation drug vernakalant. Cardiome shares, on the other hand, lost more than half of their value on the news.
Finally, Chevron (NYSE: CVX ) was up about 0.5%, despite reports that some of its executives have been prevented from leaving Brazil in connection with last year's deepwater oil spill. Authorities have also stopped certain Transocean (NYSE: RIG ) execs from leaving the country.
Staying on track
At some point, stocks will stop their straight-up rise, but the best stocks will thrive in the long run. Learn about the one stock the Fool's chief investment officer picked to crush the market in this free report: "The Motley Fool's Top Stock for 2012." Instant access is just a click away.