These Stocks Helped the Dow Eke Out a Gain Today

The Dow Jones Industrials (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) closed at another record high today, as the average managed to pick up three points to add to its big gains from yesterday's session. The index traded down the entire afternoon, but investors got more optimistic toward the close, as broader markets showed much more strength. The S&P 500 climbed 0.3%, setting another new record, while the Nasdaq rose 0.6%, to climb above the 3,600 level for the first time since 2000.

As I discussed earlier this afternoon, financial stocks ended up the big winners on the day in the Dow. But two consumer-oriented stocks also posted decent gains, with Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG  ) and Home Depot (NYSE: HD  ) picking up the better part of 1% each. For P&G, a healthy 3% yield is alluring to investors seeking relative safety and solid income and, despite the strategic mistakes that led to the departure of former CEO Robert McDonald, P&G has seen its stock rise toward new record highs of its own.

Meanwhile, Home Depot has raised considerable doubt about the viability of its big recovery, as rising mortgage rates threaten the recent surge in home prices. Yet, long-term investors should recall that Home Depot managed to fare quite well even when home prices were weak, as it shifted its strategy to focus on renovations by homeowners who were essentially stuck in their homes, and needed to consider work on their current residences rather than trading up to more attractive properties.

The real action for rising stocks happened outside the Dow, though. RadioShack (NYSE: RSH  ) regained all of its lost ground from yesterday, soaring 11% as it countered rumors that it was considering a bankruptcy filing. Rather, the company said that recent discussions with investment banks were connected to its efforts to strengthen its balance sheet. Investors took this as a positive sign that the company was essentially denying the bankruptcy rumors, but the electronics retailer still faces the tough challenge of making itself relevant in a very crowded space that's full of companies trying to reinvent themselves.

Finally, WebMD (NASDAQ: WBMD  ) jumped 25%, as the company released preliminary results that crushed expectations. The medical website now expects to turn a profit for its full 2013 year, turning around earlier predictions of a similarly sized loss. Depending on how successful the company is at making deals for private portals like the contract it secured from the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Federal Employee program, WebMD could continue to see ramped-up growth in future years, as well.

One potential driver for WebMD will be employer initiatives to try to respond to cost concerns about Obamacare. To learn more about Obamacare and its impact on you, read The Motley Fool's new free report, "Everything You Need to Know About Obamacare." Inside, you'll learn how your health insurance, your taxes, and your portfolio could be affected. Click here to read more. 


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