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At the halfway point of the trading day, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI ) was up 15 points (0.11%) to 13,264. That's just 15 points away from its one-year high of 13,279 set May 1, 2012.
There were two economic releases today, and both were positive for stocks. This morning the Conference Board reported its leading economic index was up 0.4% in July, slightly higher than analysts' expectations of 0.3%, pointing to low growth in the economy. The leading economic index is an index made up of 10 reported indicators of the strength of the economy including average weekly hours, weekly initial unemployment claims, number of building permits, and manufactures' new orders, among others.
The second release was the University of Michigan consumer sentiment index, which increased to 73.6 from 72.3, its highest reading since May. Economists had expected the index to actually decline so this was a surprise. The index measures consumers' confidence in their own finances.
Stocks as a whole were relatively flat, but a few are pushing the Dow up today.
Today's top 3
- Today's Dow leader is Bank of America (NYSE: BAC ) , up 2.14% ($0.17) to $8.10. The stock is up 11% since July 20 and continued its rise today with the news of the positive consumer confidence data. Fool analyst Anand Chokkavelu wrote in April why you should consider Bank of America for your portfolio -- check it out here.
- Home Depot (NYSE: HD ) is second-largest gainer for the day, up 1.37% ($0.77) to $57.08. The company reported strong earnings on Tuesday and hit a 52-week high on Wednesday. The company has been benefiting from strength in homebuilders. America's largest homebuilder, D.R. Horton (NYSE: DHI ) reported net sales were up 25% in the third quarter. Fool analyst Sean Williams believes shares of Home Depot could head even higher. Click here to read his analysis.
- Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT ) is also notching gains, up 1.33% ($1.18) to $89.77. The maker of construction equipment announced this morning that its global equipment sales were up 14% in the three-month rolling period that ending in July. That's up from May and June's 11% rate. Asia and North America were strongest, with 25%+ growth while Latin America, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa all showed small declines. Fool analyst Neha Chamaria believes Caterpillar is worth a look.
The best approach
Watching the broad market each day is exciting, but investing doesn't have to be gut-wrenching and stressful. If you're in the mood to pick up some solid buys for the long term, The Motley Fool has created a brand-new free report that focuses on three Dow stocks with both promising growth prospects and strong dividends. It can be yours, absolutely free -- just click here.