ExxonMobil's Upgrade Bounce Leads the Dow's Triple-Digit Eruption

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over daily movements, we do like to keep an eye on market changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

The market has bounced back from last week's slide in a big way to kick off this week, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) jumped out to huge early gains and hasn't looked back. The Dow's up around 150 points at 2:30 p.m. EST, with nearly every member of the blue-chip index in the green. ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM  ) ranks among the Dow's big leaders today in gaining 2.3%, while United Technologies (NYSE: UTX  ) investors are riding good economic news higher on the stock's own 1.6% climb. Let's check out what you need to know.

Manufacturing hits a big boost
Manufacturing continues to climb higher in the U.S., and a strong report from the sector opened up the day in a big way. November industrial production jumped 1.1%, its biggest single-month climb in a year -- a gain that smashed economist expectations by a full half a percentage point. Mining, one of the hardest-hit industries in the industrials sector since the recession, even managed to post a great month, as output pulled up by 1.7%.

That's good news for Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT  ) , as this industrial giant has a big footprint in the mining industry and hasn't been able to capitalize on the Dow's gains this year due to the industrials sector's struggles. Caterpillar's up 1.7% today, a superb bounce for investors frustrated with the stock's sluggish performance year to date.

The company's resource industries segment hasn't yet recovered despite today's good news -- sales fell a whopping 42% year over year in the third quarter – and Caterpillar will need a much greater global boost to the mining industry before it will see this hard-hit business rise. Still, today's news is good news for Caterpillar shareholders who have weathered years of the industry's decline and watched this stock miss out on the best of 2013's gains.

Fellow manufacturer and conglomerated giant United Technologies has also risen behind the manufacturing data today, even though the company recently warned that 2014 might see tough challenges for investors. The company late last week cautioned that a murky climate over the future of U.S. defense spending could weigh down progress at United Technologies's defense businesses, such as its Pratt & Whitney engine manufacturing unit and its Sikorsky helicopter-making business.

Still, United Technologies's earnings estimate for next year met analyst expectations -- barely -- and the company's diversification is a good asset for investors. United Technologies expects its Otis elevator business to make up for some of those potential defense hits, and this stock's done a good job in rising more than 27% year to date.

Exxon's picking up steam today not because of any economic report, but because Goldman Sachs offered an upgrade for the stock, raising its opinion from neutral to buy. It seems good timing on Goldman's part: Exxon's stock has struggled through a ho-hum year, picking up only about 8% year to date as the company's downstream earnings have fallen substantially through the first nine months of the year. Nevertheless, Exxon's not going anywhere: Despite the company's financial falls in 2013, Exxon remains one of the biggest and most far-reaching companies in the energy business. Goldman said the stock looks inexpensive and that a production turnaround could be on the way; if it's right, 2014 could be a big year for investors in this Big Oil giant.

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