Why the Dow Headed Higher

With the first presidential debate in the bag, traders seem to be settling into the political season. As of 2:45 p.m. EDT, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI  ) stands higher by 90 points, or 0.67%.

What's driving the Dow
Two developments appear to be fueling the market's rise. First, applications for unemployment benefits filed last week came in at 367,000. While this was higher than the prior week, it nevertheless came in below the consensus estimate. According to Bloomberg Businessweek, economists had expected 370,000 claims.

Second, factory orders in August came in better than expected. Data released today by the Department of Commerce showed that orders for manufactured goods fell by 5.2% in August relative to July. This was also less than forecast; economists had predicted a decline of 6%.

The Dow's biggest winners and losers
As I write, the Dow's components are mixed: Six are trading lower, while 24 are up for the day.

Leading the Dow's ascent are Bank of America (NYSE: BAC  ) and Alcoa (NYSE: AA  ) . Both stocks are highly susceptible to changing macroeconomic trends. Consequently, the better-than-expected economic news has fueled these stocks' gains. To read more about Bank of America, download our in-depth report on the company.

Alternatively, the worst-performing stock on the day is Intel (Nasdaq: INTC  ) . As I've discussed previously, the chip maker has struggled to appease investors since downgrading its forward revenue and earnings guidance last month. To read more about Intel, download our in-depth report on the company.

Foolish bottom line
Given the market's increased volatility stemming from the ongoing crisis in Europe and the continuing economic malaise here at home, investors are hunting for great stocks that can see the crisis through. Three such companies are identified in our popular free report "3 American Companies Set to Dominate the World." To download this report instantly, simply click here now.

Foolish contributor John Maxfield owns shares of Bank of America. The Motley Fool owns shares of Intel and Bank of America. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Intel. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.


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