Dow Closes at a 5-Year High

After gaining 175 points, or 1.26%, today, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) is now sitting at 14,075, or a five-year high. The index also now needs just another 90 points to break its all-time high of 14,165, which it set back in 2007. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq both also posted solid gains as they rose by 1.27% and 1.04%, respectively. Only one of the Dow's 30 components ended today's session in the red and even though the index is on the verge of making a new all-time high, three of its components are down year to date.

The Dow's downers
Shares of Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ  ) missed the bull rally today as they fell a mere 0.1%. But even after today's mild decline, over the past seven trading sessions the stock price is still up more than 17.74% and year to date shares have risen more than 38%, making it the best-performing Dow component in 2013. Today's pullback was likely just investors taking profits after the recent run-up. But with trading volume slightly higher than usual, it would seem that new investors are still pouring into the stock, which would indicate that shares could go even higher in the short term.

In 2012, Hewlett-Packard was the worst-performing Dow stock while Bank of America (NYSE: BAC  ) was the best performer. The companies have flipped spots this year as shares of B of A are down 2.67% year to date even after they gained 1.62% today. The bank continues to face headwinds this year with legal liabilities stemming from its purchase of Countrywide and other mortgage-related issues.

But the most recent issue investors have had with the company was the pay package its CEO received last year. Brian Moynihan received $12.1 million in total compensation in 2012, which was a 73% increase from the year before. Investors have clearly not been thrilled with this news, as shares have fallen more than 7.2% since the news broke on Feb. 20.

The other two year-to-date Dow losers are Alcoa (NYSE: AA  ) and UnitedHealth (NYSE: UNH  ) . Alcoa has received downward pressure lately due to reports indicating that stockpiles of aluminum have grown over the past year in China, which happens to be one of the company's largest customer. UnitedHealth has fallen after the insurance industry sounded alarms about lower 2014 profits because of the Medicare rates the government has proposed for that year.

More foolish insight

Materials industries are traditionally known for their high barriers to entry, and the aluminum industry is no exception. Representing 14.7% of 2011 global production in this highly consolidated industry, Alcoa is in prime position to take advantage of growth that some expect will lead to total industry revenue approaching $160 billion by 2017. Based on this prospective and several other company-specific factors, Alcoa is certainly worth a closer look. For a Foolish investment perspective on this global giant, simply click here to get started.


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