Going into the weekend with some gains always feels good, and that's the gift that the stock market gave investors today. With a 25-point gain for the Dow Jones Industrials (INDEX: ^DJI ) , the Dow missed setting a new four-year high by about five points. As more time goes by without a cataclysmic event in Europe, and investors hear more positive news about the U.S. economy, it seems increasingly likely that the bull market could continue, despite its substantial gains to this point.
A few Dow stocks in particular led the way higher today. United Technologies (NYSE: UTX ) finished up 2%, as investors seemed to appreciate the beneficial impact that a healthier economy could have on the diversified conglomerate. Earlier this week, the Norwegian military hinted that it could turn to United Technologies if a European consortium can't deliver helicopters that it ordered seven years ago. With the U.S. military budget in question, foreign orders have become more important to United Tech's success.
Travelers (NYSE: TRV ) jumped 1.5%, coming within a few cents of a new 52-week high. Last quarter, investors were concerned that catastrophic losses were still relatively high, albeit not nearly as bad as during disaster-stricken 2011. But the insurance company has also been able to strengthen its pricing, earning more in premiums to offset any losses. As long as hurricane season stays relatively quiet, Travelers looks to be setting up well so far this quarter.
Finally, Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT ) also climbed 1.5%. The company got good news today, when workers at an Illinois manufacturing plant decided to accept a six-year labor agreement, putting a four-month strike to an end. Given the importance of keeping internal costs at a minimum, the deal should help Caterpillar sustain its competitive edge, even as peers like Manitowoc (NYSE: MTW ) do their best to extend their reach around the world.
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