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Stocks are back on the upswing today after the bearish start to the week, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) has ignored overseas pressures to post strong gains so far today. The blue-chip index has jumped 129 points as of 2:25 p.m. EDT to climb back above the 15,000 mark. Japanese markets plunged earlier today in what has become a pattern over the last few weeks, but American markets don't seem to be sharing their Japanese counterparts' worries.
How is today's climb impacting your portfolio? Let's check out the top movers and stories you need to know about.
Manufacturing builds up gains
Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT ) has been one of the Dow's worst stocks in 2013, but the industrial giant's leading the index higher today. Shares have surged 1.9% after Caterpillar announced a 15% hike in its dividend on Wednesday, raising its yield to 2.9% as of yesterday's closing price. Caterpillar's weakness this year is part of a trend across the industrial sector, so take heart, income investors: This firm is still on top of its industry despite its recent woes. While Caterpillar's fortunes have taken a hit in the mining industry, particularly given China's sluggish growth and downbeat economic projections, this company is the most well-positioned firm in its sector to capitalize when industrials -- traditionally a highly cyclical industry -- turn around.
Shares in fellow manufacturer United Technologies (NYSE: UTX ) have jumped 1.6% today to rank among the Dow's leaders as well. UTC scored big earlier in the week when the Pentagon handed out $1 billion in contract awards. The company won a whopping $649 million of that package in a modification of a prior contract, whereby UTC subsidiary Pratt & Whitney would deliver engines for the Lockheed-Martin F-35 fighter. UTC has done well in the defense industry, particularly on the back of the much-maligned boondoggle that is the F-35, but sequestration -- along with concerns over the F-35's skyrocketing costs -- could slow down the company's momentum in the future.
Aerospace and defense investors haven't complained about the day's gains, with Boeing (NYSE: BA ) shares also among the Dow's leaders today. The stock has climbed more than 1.2% today, and Boeing investors have enjoyed a strong past few weeks after a tumultuous start to the year. The company's 787 Dreamliner has returned to normal operations after it being grounded for the first few months of 2013, and Boeing won two big military contracts earlier this week.
The Pentagon awarded the company $4 billion to construct Chinook helicopters for the Army and later handed out another $4.9 billion to Boeing and Textron subsidiary Bell Helicopters to build 99 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft. Although the Federal Trade Commission is looking into antitrust claims at the company's United Launch Alliance joint venture with Lockheed Martin, Boeing has done well to boost its backlog in the past few weeks. Considering that Boeing claimed on Tuesday that the world airliner fleet is set to double in the next 20 years, the future looks bright for this aerospace titan.
On the other side of the Dow, DuPont (NYSE: DD ) is leading a small group of laggers downward today, having lost 0.8% of its value. The firm dropped some bad news today when it announced that its operating profit will be negatively affected by cooler, wetter weather this spring. DuPont said its operating earnings for 2013's first half will likely come in 10% lower year over year, pointing out that its agricultural business in the U.S. and Europe was hit by the unseasonal weather. DuPont still expects full-year operating earnings to meet prior guidelines but also believes they'll come in at the low end of a projected range of between $3.85 and $4.05 per share.
Will aerospace's leader keep flying high?
Boeing is a major player in a multitrillion-dollar market in which the opportunities are massive. However, emerging competitors and the company's execution problems have investors wondering whether Boeing will live up to its shareholder responsibilities. The Fool's premium research report on the company provides investors with the must-know info on Boeing. We'll be updating the report as key news hits, so don't miss out -- simply click here now to claim your copy today.