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At the beginning of the day, things looked really ugly for the stock market. With the Dow Jones Industrials (INDEX: ^DJI ) down more than 225 points shortly after the market opened, fear about what could happen in Spain's and Italy's battered economies weighed heavily on both major European markets and U.S. stocks. Given that McDonald's (NYSE: MCD ) had earlier this morning announced weaker-than-expected earnings in which U.S. dollar strength played a key role for the shortfall, threats of further disruptions on the Continent certainly looked credible. But by the end of the day, the Dow had greatly cut its losses.
Even though all 30 Dow stocks traded lower in early-morning trade, several stocks climbed back into the green by the close. The big winner for the day was JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM ) , which rose more than 1.5%. The rise came on news that CEO Jamie Dimon bought half a million shares of the bank's stock, investing about $17 million. Amid huge daily moves, insiders like Dimon generally invest with a longer timeframe in mind, and insider buying is often a positive sign of better things to come.
General Electric (NYSE: GE ) also rose more than 1% in what was likely follow-through after the company's strong earnings report last Friday. With the conglomerate having taken big steps to recover after the financial crisis and its GE Capital unit nearly brought the entire company to its knees, GE can now step back and focus on how to improve its massive internal corporate structure to get the most efficiency possible.
Finally, Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT ) rose three-quarters of a percent. The company said this afternoon that it will sell its mining equipment distribution and support business in eastern Canada to authorized dealer Hewitt Equipment. The move follows a series of similar sales by Caterpillar to turn over responsibility for distribution and support of its Bucyrus division's products to its members of its dealer network, and it makes sense as a way to help Caterpillar focus on its core business.
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