Don't let it get away!
Keep track of the stocks that matter to you.
Help yourself with the Fool's FREE and easy new watchlist service today.
It was a record day for the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) . That's been a common headline lately with the Dow's monumental surge this year. Today, however, the index hit a special mark long awaited by market observers: Dow 15,000. The blue chip index closed just under that mark, at 14,973, after pulling in gains of 142 points, or around 1%. Twenty-five out of 30 member stocks rose into the green today, with almost half of the Dow recording gains of more than 1%. What were the biggest stories shaking up the markets on this big day? Let's go around the Dow.
Unemployment falls as industrials soar
Strong job data sparked today's rally from the get-go. America's unemployment rate fell to a low not seen since 2008, declining to 7.5% in April. Nonfarm payrolls picked up by more than 165,000 jobs for the month, nearly 30,000 more than in March. Together with the European Central Bank's interest rate cut earlier in the day, Friday provided plenty of good news for investors who were still sweating about the slow economic recovery.
It was fitting that Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT ) , one of the Dow's most economically reliant stocks, topped the index today by gaining more than 3.2%. The stock has suffered through the slow-growth climate around the world with slumping sales -- particularly in Europe and China -- rendering Caterpillar as the worst performer of the Dow in 2013. While the near future doesn't look bright for the company, as the faster Chinese growth of years prior remains elusive, Caterpillar remains on top of a down industry. The industrial sector's as cyclical as they come, and when the economy picks back up, this is one long-term stock that could reward patient investors handsomely.
Industrials performed well all around today, and Boeing (NYSE: BA ) joined in the party. Shares of the aerospace giant took off by 1.7% today, as the drama over the 787 Dreamliner's grounding begins to fade. Things are looking up for Boeing's flagship aircraft, although trouble came from another source today: Boeing cut production of its 747-8 jets last month, and today, the firm cancelled a five-jet order with Dubai Aerospace Enterprise. The deal was worth $1.76 billion and, while DAE still has an order for five 777 jets with Boeing, it's a stinging blow for the company.
The Dow's two big banks couldn't take advantage of today's rise, however. Shares of JP Morgan (NYSE: JPM ) fell nearly 1.1%, to lead the Dow's few laggards lower after agents from the Federal Energy Regulation Commission, or FERC, found that JP Morgan manipulated electricity market trading in California and Michigan. FERC proposed a $470 million penalty for Barclays (NYSE: BCS ) last year in a similar scheme that Barclays disputes, so JP Morgan could soon feel regulatory wrath if the allegations are true. The bank has until mid-May to respond to the agency's claims.
Shares of Bank of America (NYSE: BAC ) climbed slightly higher on the day, but the bank is facing its own hazard. The company is facing numerous lawsuits, but one Countrywide Financial-related mortgage-backed securities suit settled in 2011 has thrown the original settlement into doubt. B of A stands to lose a lot more if the settlement isn't approved, and investor concern over this, and the recent push by several Congressmen to raise capital requirements at the largest banks, subdued the stock today.
Bank of America's stock doubled in 2012. Is there more yet to come? With significant challenges still ahead, it's critical to have a solid understanding of this megabank before adding it to your portfolio. In The Motley Fool's premium research report on B of A, analysts Anand Chokkavelu, CFA, and Matt Koppenheffer, Financials bureau chief, lift the veil on the bank's operations, including detailing three reasons to buy, and three reasons to sell. Click here now to claim your copy.