The stock market continues to linger at all-time record highs as both the Dow Jones Industrials (DJINDICES:^DJI) and the S&P 500 climbed modestly this morning to push further into uncharted territory. With a lack of any significant economic data or market-moving news, the market seems to be climbing on autopilot, and the Dow has breached the 15,000 level. As of 10:55 a.m. EDT, the Dow is up 42 points, while the S&P has risen about three points to 1,620.
Rather than focusing on big market milestones, it's important on quiet days to look at which stocks are making more dramatic moves. Today, for instance, Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT) is leading the Dow's gainers with a rise of 1.7%. Quietly, the construction equipment giant has seen its shares bounce 10% off their April lows, even though prospects for the overall global economy haven't begun to rebound markedly. Caterpillar has a long way to go to recover its highs from earlier in the year, but greater investor optimism about cyclical stocks could lead to a new leg for the bull market, given its reliance until now on more defensive stocks like consumer products companies.
On the downside, Cisco (NASDAQ:CSCO) is falling 1.4%. Tech stocks have been relatively out of favor for a long time, and despite Cisco's recent attempts to jump-start its growth with initiatives like its software-defined data-center space, investors haven't been willing to reward tech companies with higher multiples. As the overall market hits record highs, value plays look increasingly attractive, but they only make sense if the companies involved can deliver on their promise.
Finally, earnings continue to have big impacts not only on individual stocks but on entire industries. First Solar's (NASDAQ:FSLR) report last night has sent the shares for a loop: They're dropping 9% after the company missed earnings estimates. Yet the company didn't pull back from its more optimistic assessment of its future as it continues efforts to bolster its already impressive backlog of solar projects. The stock drop brings two potential opportunities. If you think First Solar's long-term prospects will stay in line with its management's projections, then today's drop is a bargain opportunity. Meanwhile, if you think the reason for First Solar's drop is tied only to the company specifically, then rival SunPower (NASDAQ:SPWR), which is the efficiency leader in the U.S. solar market and which has fallen almost 4% in concert with First Solar today, could be the better buy.
Fool contributor Dan Caplinger has no position in any stocks mentioned. You can follow him on Twitter @DanCaplinger. The Motley Fool recommends Cisco Systems. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.