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Positive housing data was released today as the Case-Schiller Home Index showed that home prices were higher by 5.5% on a year-to-year basis in November, but fell slightly from October to November. The Confidence Board also released data indicating that consumer confidence fell from 66.7 in December to 58.6 in January. Some believe the drop is related to the higher Social Security tax Americans began paying at the start of the year. Nonetheless, the lower reading essentially wiped out all the gains from the whole of 2012.
Although not all economic data today was positive, overall the markets ended the day on a high note. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) was the best-performing major U.S. index as it moved higher by 72 points, or 0.52%, and now sits at 13,954. The S&P 500 also had a winning day as it rose by 7.66 points, or 0.51%, while the Nasdaq lost a mere 0.64 points, or 0.02%. Of the 30 stocks that make up the Dow, only nine of them ended the day in the red. Three of the losers this afternoon were Home Depot, Hewlett-Packard, and Boeing. To read about why those stocks were down, simply click here. Or to read about three of today's big winners, which were Verizon (NYSE: VZ ) , AT&T (NYSE: T ) , and Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT ) , continue reading below.
So why were they higher?
Shares of both Verizon and AT&T surged higher today. Verizon's 1.71% gain led all Dow stocks while AT&T's 1.61% increase wasn't far behind. Both stocks received more attention today because of the excitement surrounding the telecom industry as a whole. Research In Motion will be unveiling its new Blackberry 10 tomorrow while Apple announced a new full-sized iPad, which will be available through the wireless service providers, who will, in turn, take a cut of the profits. These outside forces are helping the telecom companies today and will continue to add value to the industry leaders in the future.
Shares of Caterpillar added 1.18% after the company received an upgrade from an analyst at BMO Capital Markets. The analyst believes that Caterpillar deserved the move from "market perform" to "outperform" after the company explained to investors the true risks associated with its future. When management is up-front and honest, investors are less prone to making rash decisions and more likely to believe in the long-term prospects of the company. Caterpillar announced its earnings yesterday morning and warned that revenue and profits will probably be lower in the first half of 2013 than they were in 2012, but the second half of the year should be good.
More Foolish insight
Caterpillar 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.