These Stocks Are Leading the Dow Higher

At the halfway point of the trading day, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI  ) was up 79 points (0.59%) to 13,492. The S&P 500 (INDEX: ^GSPC  ) is up 12 points (0.84%) to 1,446.

There were four economic releases this morning which were mixed for stocks. Let's take a look:

Report

Period

Result

Previous

Weekly unemployment claims

Sept. 22

359,000

385,000

Durable-goods orders

August

(13.2%)

3.3%

U.S. GDP

Q2

1.3%

2%

Pending home-sales index

August

99.2

101.7

Source: MarketWatch U.S. Economic Calendar.

Weekly unemployment claims came in below analyst expectations of 375,000 and last week's 385,000. This week's drop puts the one-month average at 374,000. While the weekly claims can fluctuate greatly, the four-week average has not really moved from 370,000 in 2012.

Orders for durable goods fell further than analyst expectations of a 5% drop, led by a large drop in the transportation sector, which van be volatile. Last month was the Paris Air Show, at which Boeing signed a large number of new orders. However, aircraft orders overall were negligible in August. Car sales were also down 11%. If you take out the transportation sector, durable-goods orders were only down 1.6% in August. If you take out the transportation and defense sectors, you are left with core capital goods, which grew 1.1% in August.

GDP was the third economic release. The Q2 GDP number was revised to 1.3% growth, down from 1.7% growth. The Bureau of Economic Analysis releases its estimate of GDP and then revises the number three times as more data comes in. Analysts had not expected GDP to be revised downward, so this was a surprise that gives credence to ability of the Fed's stimulus to boost economic growth.

For the past few months, the housing market has been picking up, and we are seeing that in numerous economic releases. Today's release was the pending home-sales index from the National Association of Realtors. The index came in at 99.2, down from last month's 101.7. That's still up 11% from a year ago.

The markets as a whole are up, and a few stocks in particular are pushing the Dow higher.

Today's Dow leaders
Today's Dow leader is Bank of America (NYSE: BAC  ) , up 2.38% ($0.21) to $9.02, followed by JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM  ) in second, up 1.57% ($0.64) to $40.88. The Fed's recent stimulus announcement has pushed up the banking sector as a whole. The stimulus will be a boon for the big banks, as their performance is highly dependent on the health of the economy.

Bank of America was the third-best-performing Dow stock in August. The stock is already up nearly 13% in September and is on the way to being one of this month's top three, as well. JPMorgan is close behind, up 10%. Fool analyst John Maxfield believes Bank of America is the Dow's best stock. He recently took an in-depth look at Bank of America and identified the three biggest risks facing the bank. Click here for his take.

Third for the day is Intel (Nasdaq: INTC  ) , up 1.39% ($0.31) to $22.96. The semiconductor powerhouse has had a tough September and is down 10% in the past 30 days. Yesterday Intel created a stir when a report came out that CEO Paul Otellini reportedly bashed Windows 8 at an internal meeting in Taipei. The company has since put out a press release denying the report. John Maxfield recently wrote about why Intel is underperforming the Dow. Click here for his take.

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 from our expert analysts called "2 Dirt Cheap Stocks With Huge Dividends." It won't be available forever, so click here -- it's free.


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