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Today, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) closed higher by 138 points, or 0.91%, and now sits at 15,318. The move higher came as the Federal Reserve began its two-day meeting in which the fate of its stimulus programs is up for debate. Most market participants are figuring that the central bank's bond-buying programs will remain in place with no changes -- hence why the markets have risen the past three days -- but we won't know if those guesses are correct until tomorrow. And that unknown and uncertainty have wreaked havoc on the markets for the past six days, sending the Dow lower by more than 100 points for the first three days and now higher by more than 100 points for the last three sessions.
The Dow's move higher today helped raise nearly all ships, as only two (Microsoft and Merck) of its 30 components ended the trading session in the red while a number of the 28 other stocks increased by more than 1%. Let's take a look at a few of the big winners.
General Electric (NYSE: GE ) closed the day up 2.36% today after it was announced that management plans to higher thousands of new employees and develop a "industrial Internet," which will link together industrial suppliers and buyers. The concept is being touted as a way to improve efficiencies throughout the sector. Over the past few years, we have seen how technology can change our lives, make us more connected individuals, and now big corporations are grasping the concept that technology and information sharing with its trusted partners is actually good for everyone and can help increase profits.
UnitedHealth (NYSE: UNH ) saw its shares rise by 2.04% after the stock received a higher target price from Deutsche Bank. The stock's price target was increased from $60 to $63 per share while the bank left the rating alone at hold. The bank recently had the privilege of sitting down with UnitedHealth's CEO and VP of IR and the price change was a result of that meeting. Deutsche Bank believes the health insurance company has a strong long-term position in the insurance market, but commented that United sees some real risk when it comes to the coming changes in the health-care industry.
Shares of American Express (NYSE: AXP ) rose higher by 1.54% today, and my Fool colleague Dan Dzombak credited the move to the improving housing market and higher stock prices. American Express is known as a card for higher-income individuals and Dan believes these cardholders are more likely to open their wallet up and use their American Express when housing is on the upswing and stocks are higher. And while that could be said for any of the credit card companies, although American Express has a smaller user base than Visa or MasterCard, the company makes more money on each individual customer because American Express lends credit while the others do not.
More Foolish insight
For GE, the recent financial crisis struck a blow, but management took advantage of the market's dip to make strategic bets in energy. If you're a GE investor, you need to understand how these bets could drive this company to become the world's infrastructure leader. At the same time, you need to be aware of the threats to GE's portfolio. To help, we're offering comprehensive coverage for investors in a premium report on General Electric, in which our industrials analyst breaks down its multiple businesses. You'll find reasons to buy or sell GE today. To get started, click here now.