The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) rallied to all-time highs on Tuesday, following the lead of Japan's benchmark Nikkei index, which rose to five-year highs of its own yesterday on insanely high 3.6% gains. The Dow ended up 87 points, or 0.6%, to close at 15,056 as another development across the globe helped stocks.
Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT ) rallied 2.5% to lead all blue chips on news of Australia's rate cut, which should give an extra boost to the country's mining industry. Caterpillar, a huge provider of mining machinery that derives about 70% of its sales from outside the U.S., was quick to trade higher on the news.
JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM ) added 2%, advancing for a second straight day on the new loose-money policy from Australia's central bank, the second rate-slashing move from a major global economic center in two weeks. Last week, the European Central Bank cut its rates to all-time lows in an effort to stimulate a eurozone with major fiscal issues among a growing number of its members.
On the losing side of the index today, shares of Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT ) found themselves down 1.3%. It's odd that the drop came on news that the company is actually improving the most recent version of its Windows operating system. I think the company deserves some credit for admitting its faults and taking steps to improve its most important source of recurring revenue.
The tech sector was the only one of the 10 major sectors to end lower today, and sure enough, the biggest loser in the index was a tech giant. Cisco Systems (NASDAQ: CSCO ) shed 2.1% today, though there wasn't much in the way of news to substantiate the decline. Cisco is set to report earnings next Wednesday, so we'll see if the results will bring renewed interest from investors.