It's always tough for the stock market to keep rallying after a huge market move the previous day, and today was no exception. Even as investors digested the implications of the European Central Bank's move to support bond purchases in an effort to keep relatively high interest rates down in economically weak nations, they faced news that the labor market in the U.S. isn't producing as many jobs as everyone would like. Although that may increase the odds of Federal Reserve action, the fundamental concern is that thus far, all the intervention from central banks hasn't brought back truly strong growth rates. As a result, investors are stuck in neutral, and the Dow Jones Industrials (INDEX: ^DJI ) stuck close to the unchanged level most of the day, finishing with a 15-point gain.
Three Dow stocks, however, had very impressive moves. On one hand, the Chinese government said it will invest more than a trillion yuan -- equivalent to more than $150 billion -- in infrastructure projects. This stimulus package isn't as big as the one that the U.S. implemented in the wake of 2008's financial crisis, but with China's focus on supporting construction-related projects, Alcoa (NYSE: AA ) and Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT ) were logical picks to see their stocks rise as a result. Even with gains of nearly 4%, Caterpillar actually lagged behind some of its competitors, especially Joy Global (NYSE: JOY ) , with its specialization in the mining industry. And for Alcoa and its own 4% rise, rising demand for aluminum could finally provide the lift the company needs to break out of a vicious cycle of weakness for the industry.
Meanwhile, Bank of America (NYSE: BAC ) rose another 5% today after a similar-sized gain yesterday. With the Fed likely to support lower interest rates for years to come, B of A's strategy of shedding unneeded assets to shore up its balance sheet has been effective in building shareholder confidence and raising its stock price. If the Fed is successful in jump-starting the economy, then long-term rates could start to rise, building a steeper yield curve that would be good for bank profits.
A weekend of waiting
The news never stops coming, but the weekend at least gives us a chance to stop looking at the minute-to-minute moves in the market and focus on the bigger question. B of A, for instance, has a long-term strategy it's following to try to get back to its past success. Will it find its way? Find out about the bank's prospects in the Fool's premium report on Bank of America.