Why the Dow Closed Higher

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The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI  ) was driven today by the impression that the economy is getting stronger -- albeit at a slow pace. ADP's job report indicated that 158,000 jobs were created in October, while estimates had the number lower, at 143,000. Whether it's earnings per share, revenue, or even jobs numbers, when the market gets more than what it's expecting, it is usually very happy. Today, traders showed how happy they were, and all the major U.S. indexes moved higher by more than 1%. The Dow now sits at 13,232, up 136 points.

Only three of the Dow's 30 components ended the day lower. Find out why two of them were in the red here, or stick with me to learn why Bank of America (NYSE: BAC  ) , Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT  ) and Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) all saw shares rise enough to boost the Dow.

So why are they down?
All of the big banks saw shares rise today, but Bank of America led all the Dow's winners, climbing 4.51%, with fellow Dow bank, JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM  ) seeing shares rise by 2.78%. When the economy is healthy and work is available, people have money to put in the banks, and take out loans. If people are working, banks are less likely to foreclose on their homes, and all the sub-prime mortgages that the banks still have on their balance sheets, still represent the biggest threats to the banks as an industry.

Similar to the banks, Caterpillar needs people working and a healthy economy in order to make money. When the economy is strong, more buildings, homes, and construction projects are started then when economic progress is at a standstill. In addition, the hurricane-devastated areas will likely need new homes and buildings, which should bode well for a company like Caterpillar. The more wear and tear on older equipment, the sooner new heavy machinery can be sold. Shares of Caterpillar increased by 3.35% today.

Finally, Microsoft's shares rose by 3.42% during today's trading session. My Fool colleague Travis Hoium believes the move higher was a result of the company's Windows 8 operating system and Surface tablet not turning into a disaster for the company. While initial product reviews were mixed, the company seems to have created new products that appeal to at least some customers.

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To learn more about the most-talked-about bank out there, check out our in-depth company report on Bank of America. The report details Bank of America's prospects, including three reasons to buy and three reasons to sell. Just click here to get access.


Matt Thalman owns shares of Microsoft, Bank of America, and JPMorgan Chase. The Motley Fool owns shares of Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase & Co., and Microsoft. Motley Fool newsletter services recommend Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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