A See-Sawing Dow Stays Mostly Flat

As has become the norm in recent days, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) is having a wild session of ups and downs. But the day's highs and lows are nothing to write home about: As of 2:20 p.m., the Dow is up just 12 points. Most of the index's members are in the green today, but there's little movement outside of a few stocks swinging more than 1% in either direction.

All quiet on the fiscal-cliff front
With no news out of the ongoing fiscal-cliff drama today, the markets have swung on investor faith and skepticism regarding Congress' ability to come to a solution before the new year. With consumer confidence around multiyear highs, the cliff's uncertainty has so far concerned businesses more than individuals. However, with some unemployment benefits and various tax cuts set to expire, expect even more scrutiny and uneasiness as the fiscal cliff continues to draw nearer.

Industrials have again taken some of the hardest hits today. Boeing (NYSE: BA  ) Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT  ) have all seen shares fall slightly on a day with few Dow laggards (NYSE: AA  ) . The fiscal cliff's impact on capital-intensive businesses in this sector could be tremendous in the first part of 2013, as manufacturing companies are strongly tied to the state of the economy. If the fiscal cliff does come to pass and GDP sours -- as many predict -- industrial stocks could tank early next year.

On the other hand, tech's having quite a good day after mostly missing out on yesterday's triple-digit Dow rally. Intel (NASDAQ: INTC  ) leads all Dow stocks higher, with shares up 1.8%. Fellow chip maker Broadcom (NASDAQ: BRCM  ) upgraded its fourth-quarter guidance, sending Intel and fellow semiconductor manufacturers like Qualcomm (NASDAQ: QCOM  ) higher as a result. It's a small victory for Intel investors, however, considering the stock's three-month drop of more than 20%.

Trading higher
Chevron
(NYSE: CVX  ) also has traded today: The energy giant is up 0.8%. Though the company reported that its costs for its Gorgon natural gas exploration in Australia will run 15% higher than prior estimates, most industry observers had predicted the rising costs due to the strong Australian dollar. With markets eager for news about the project, investors pushed Chevron's stock higher after learning this concrete information.

Among top gainers, Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO  ) and McDonalds (NYSE: MCD  ) also reported gains of about 1.2%.

While most of the stocks on the Dow are up, investors have to be concerned about the fiscal cliff's impact on Caterpillar. However, this company is the market share leader in an industry in which size matters, and its quality products, extensive service network, and unparalleled brand strength combine to give it solid competitive advantages. Read all about Caterpillar's strengths and weaknesses in our brand-new report. Just click here to access it now.


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