This morning's big surge in the stock market surprised a lot of folks. After all, the big news came yesterday, when the Federal Reserve decided to pull the trigger on QE3. For a while, it seemed like the bull-market party would carry right on through the weekend, but investors apparently got a sobering dose of reality during the afternoon, as the Dow Jones Industrials (INDEX: ^DJI ) gave back about half of its morning gains, to finish the day up 54 points. Still, the market's gains were enough for most major benchmarks to set new multi-year records.
Indeed, some Dow components just kept on pushing strongly higher. United Technologies (NYSE: UTX ) pushed higher by more than 2%, despite the Obama administration's warnings about the potentially "devastating impact" from automatic budget cuts under sequestration. With almost $55 billion in defense-related cuts possibly coming, United Tech's defense business could find itself under severe pressure. However, many believe that Congress will come to an alternative arrangement rather than letting sequestration take effect.
Stocks centering on industrial activity also posted nice gains. Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT ) was the Dow's biggest gainer, up 2.7%. As Fool analyst Dan Dzombak observed earlier today, Caterpillar benefits twice from recent stimulative moves: It does a lot of business within the U.S., but it also has centered on China for growth. The combination of the Fed's move, and China's big infrastructure projects, has certainly made the company's prospects look brighter. Meanwhile, Alcoa (NYSE: AA ) was also up more than 2%, as the same factors helping demand for machinery also bode well for aluminum demand, which has been exceedingly poor for years during tough economic times in the U.S. and Europe.
Finally, DuPont (NYSE: DD ) picked up more than 2%. DuPont has long benefitted from having exposure to two strong sectors of the economy: industrial chemicals, and agricultural products. Although the drought threatened farm strength, and the global slowdown could have hurt its core chemicals business, DuPont clearly benefits from central bank efforts to spur growth. Still, we'll have to wait until the crop season is over to see if the ag sector will help the company out going forward.
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