UnitedHealth Group Leads the Dow Higher

Most stocks have moved in trading today after the Department of Commerce reported a 3% rise in factory orders in February. As of 3:25 p.m. EDT the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) is up 0.47%, while the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC  )  has gained 0.4%. Interestingly, gains weren't spread evenly among stocks today, and there were some wild moves from some of the largest companies on the market.

UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH  ) is up 4.8% today, leading the Dow higher. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services pulled a 180 today, announcing an increase in Medicare Advantage reimbursements of 3.3%. The initial proposal was for a 2.2% cut, which made insurers lobby for higher rates, even threatening to drop coverage. The lobbying worked, and UnitedHealth is one of many medical insurers that have made significantly gains today.

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Home Depot (NYSE: HD  ) is second on the Dow, gaining 1.6% so far today. The company sold $2 billion of bonds to help fund a $17 billion share buyback program which the company authorized in February. The bonds due 2023 were sold at just 85 basis points over similar treasuries, which is a great price for a company adding leverage and sending money back to shareholders.

Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ  ) is the big loser on the Dow today, plummeting 5.5%. Goldman Sachs downgraded the company to "sell," citing excessive optimism priced into the stock right now. PC sales slowed rapidly toward the end of 2012, but recent data showing a rise in PC sales has given the market hope for the PC market and driven recent gains at HP. The stock is still a risky bet for investors, and I'd wait to see a solid turnaround in sales and profits before buying in, because even an analyst downgrade can sink the stock in the short term.


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