After a long couple of dreary weeks for the markets, investors apparently decided they'd had enough negativity. All it took was some positive comments from leaders in both political parties that a compromise on the fiscal cliff was possible, even though any such compromise will require huge concessions from both sides. With a greater-than-expected rise in home sales and the prospects that long-awaited Greek relief could finally come to the beleaguered European nation, stocks soared, with the Dow Jones Industrials (DJINDICES:^DJI) rising almost 160 points, or 1.27%, as of 10:45 a.m. EST. The S&P and Nasdaq showed even greater gains on a percentage basis.

Among Dow stocks, economically sensitive companies did particularly well. Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT) and General Electric (NYSE:GE) have both climbed about 2%, with both stocks bouncing from recent drops that left them trading at multi-month lows. Caterpillar's exposure to international markets should help it survive domestic issues, provided they don't have a big impact on the global economy. For General Electric, so long as oil prices remain high, demand for its various forms of alternative-energy production should continue, giving the company the tailwinds it needs to keep its share price moving higher.

Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) is up 0.9% despite news that CEO Paul Otellini plans to step down next spring. Otellini has spent seven and a half years in the top spot at the semiconductor giant, but recent failures to take full advantage of its industry leadership and earn prominent placements in mobile devices have kept the stock in check in recent years. A new CEO will have the opportunity to push Intel in a new direction that will hopefully help it boost its mobile presence.

Finally, UnitedHealth (NYSE:UNH) was the lone loser in the Dow earlier, falling just a couple cents before rebounding to join the broader rally. After the election, the focus in health care has turned to the coming implementation of provisions of the Affordable Care Act. With Medicare premiums set to rise about 5%, costs are of primary concern to seniors, and UnitedHealth and its peers will have to address ongoing cost concerns even as it brings on potentially millions of new customers when the individual mandate goes into effect.

Fool contributor Dan Caplinger has no positions in the stocks mentioned above. The Motley Fool owns shares of General Electric Company and Intel. Motley Fool newsletter services recommend Intel and UnitedHealth Group. 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.