United Technologies Leads a Sluggish Dow to Record Highs

The markets are setting up for a record close to end this shortened week -- U.S. markets are closed tomorrow. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) has surpassed its previous record high again, climbing 36 points, or 0.25%, as of 2:25 p.m. EDT, with most of its component stocks in the green. Even though economic indicators released today were disappointing to Wall Street, investors have happily looked past them and reaped the rewards of another day in this recent bull run.

Slow growth continues
Fourth-quarter economic growth didn't inspire anybody today, as U.S. GDP grew just 0.4% over the period. That's better than the 0.1% it grew during the third quarter, but it's still a sign that the economy is not nearly out of the shadow of the recession. With consumer confidence still shaky and jobless claims rising last week, investors would have been forgiven for pulling back today.

Yet Wall Street has been happy to keep on buying, and United Technologies (NYSE: UTX  ) has led the Dow higher today. Shares of the conglomerate have risen 0.9% so far after the company completed its sale of the electrical power systems unit of recent acquisition Goodrich to French industrial firm Safran. UTC pulled in $400 million in the deal, which was the second divestment of a Goodrich unit since UTC purchased the company for more than $16 billion last year. The move made sense for UTC, considering the economies of scale that come with size -- and in the industrial sector, size is power.

Fellow industrial stock and aerospace manufacturer Boeing (NYSE: BA  ) is having a different sort of day, however. Shares of the company have fallen 0.7% to rank among the worst Dow laggards as shareholders express caution regarding recent optimism about the 787 Dreamliner's battery fix. The aircraft recently made a successful test flight with the new design, and things are looking up for the company's newest jet. Boeing CEO James McNerney said today that testing of the redesigned batteries will be completed in the near future and that passenger flights will return soon.

Despite the turmoil surrounding the 787 saga, however, Boeing's stock has remained among the best of the Dow year to date. Since the year began, shares have soared more than 15% to rank the stock among the top third of the index. Investors can only hope the optimism over the 787 can keep that momentum going.

Today's hardest-hit sector has been financials. Among the Dow's stocks, JPMorgan (NYSE: JPM  ) and Bank of America (NYSE: BAC  ) rank near the bottom of the index with shares of the stocks losing 0.7% apiece. For Bank of America's stock, 2013 hasn't been anywhere near as good as its Dow-leading 2012: Year to date, the stock has only risen just more than 1%. JPMorgan has done much better, and while the company still faces investigations from numerous regulators over recent trading losses and other issues, ratings agency S&P has confidence in the bank. S&P upgraded JP Morgan from "negative" to "stable" yesterday, saying that pressure over the "London Whale" fiasco has wound down over the recent past.

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