Stocks are kicking off the short week on a good note, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) is back above 14,000 in today's rally. The Dow has recorded gains of 55 points, or 0.4%, as of 2:15 p.m. EST. Most members of the index are in the green today, with numerous stocks hitting gains of more than 1%. Let's go around the Dow and see why the biggest movers up are reacting.
Moving on up...and down
GE (NYSE: GE ) ranks among Dow leaders with gains of 1.9%. The big conglomerate announced earlier today that it would spend more than $300 million investing in Indonesian health care, deep-sea drilling, and forming partnerships with local companies as part of a push into the emerging market. Indonesia and its more than 230 million people offer a bountiful, growing market for the company, and GE's stock has once again hit a new 52-week high on the news.
Bank of America (NYSE: BAC ) is also hitting stride today, leading all Dow members up with gains of 2.3%. The stock's hovering just below a new 52-week high, although 2013 hasn't so far lived up to 2012. Last year's top Dow stock has stayed flat to kick off the new year, but it has still picked up more than 26% in the past three months. The bank also got a lift from the New York Fed in a move that only recently came to light: The Federal Reserve cleared the company of liability on some mortgage-backed securities it sold to recovering insurer AIG in part of a lawsuit last summer. It's good for B of A that AIG's potential $7 billion suit was cleared -- and not so good for AIG shareholders.
Speaking of downsides, some stocks on the Dow are slipping today. UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH ) is taking a shellacking, with shares down 1.9%. Rival health insurer Humana (NYSE: HUM ) is taking the entire industry down after its earnings sparked a panic. The company took a hit from proposed cuts to reimbursement rates from Medicare Advantage, as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid announced rates below what Humana expected. For health care insurers looking to find new ways to grow their bottom lines as 2014 approaches -- when millions of Americans will be required to purchase insurance or face a penalty -- the proposed Medicare rate change was disappointing news.
However, even UnitedHealth isn't having so bad a day as Alcoa. The aluminum company has lost 2% so far in a backblast from last week's deal, when Chinese company CITIC purchased a 13% stake in Australian company Alumina. Alumina boasts a 40% stake in a joint venture with Alcoa, and investors today apparently feel the need to lock in gains after Alcoa's stock surged last week.
Learn more about GE
GE's on a roll today, but is this tried-and-true stock a buy? For GE, the recent financial crisis struck a blow, but management took advantage of the market's dip to make strategic bets in energy. If you're a GE investor, you need to understand how these bets could drive this company to become the world's infrastructure leader. At the same time, you need to be aware of the threats to GE's portfolio. To help, we're offering comprehensive coverage for investors in a premium report on General Electric, in which our industrials analyst breaks down GE's multiple businesses. You'll find reasons to buy or sell GE, and you'll receive continuing updates as major events unfold during the year. To get started, click here now.