The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI) is starting the week off on a good note, trading 144 points higher, or 0.9%, at 2:50 p.m. EST. Some positive economic data flowed to investors today, including industrial production rising 1.1% from October to November levels -- surpassing pre-recession levels for the first time. Productivity also rose 3% in the third quarter, which was the fastest rate since the last quarter of 2009. With the good news in mind, here's a look at some major companies making the headlines today.
Inside the Dow Jones Industrial Average, General Electric (NYSE: GE) announced Friday that it would boost its dividend from $0.19 per quarter to $0.22. This marks the sixth time that General Electric has increased the common stock dividend since the recession as the company continues to return value to shareholders through share repurchases and dividends.
Outside the Dow, automotive giant General Motors (NYSE: GM) is determined to keep the media focused on its huge headlines again this week. The company delivered one major development after another last week, as the U.S. Treasury finally unloaded its stake, Mary Barra was named the next CEO, and the company said it would pull its Chevrolet brand from Europe while introducing Cadillac. Today, General Motors announced it would invest nearly $1.3 billion in five manufacturing sites in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana to produce new fuel-efficient engines and transmissions, enhance vehicle quality, and streamline logistics.
GM is trying to repair its brand image, and it wasn't shy about spreading word that its $10.1 billion worth of investments in the U.S. since 2009 has created or retained more than 26,500 jobs.
UAW Vice President Joe Ashton had this to say: "Today's announcement is a win for American workers. The UAW is proud to be a part of this successful collaboration with GM that has helped rebuild the nation's economy, created good paying, union jobs in communities across the country, and brought manufacturing that was moved overseas back to the U.S. This is further proof that collective bargaining works."
General Motors isn't the only major U.S. automaker planning for additional growth, as Ford (NYSE: F) is beginning to gear up for 2014. Ford announced it would launch more vehicles next year than any other year in more than a century. To support 23 new vehicle launches around the world, Ford will add more than 5,000 new U.S. jobs and open three more manufacturing facilities globally. Like cross-town rival General Motors, Ford is quick to point out that over the last two years it has added 14,000 jobs.
"This is the fastest and most aggressive manufacturing expansion the company has undergone in 50 years," John Fleming, executive vice president, Ford global manufacturing, said in a press release. "The last time Ford was growing like this, Dwight D. Eisenhower was the U.S. president."
A large chunk of Ford's growth will come from China, where the automaker was late to the game and is playing catch-up with General Motors. Ford owns a 4.3% market share, compared to GM's 14%, but is planning to up that to 6% by mid-decade through 15 vehicle launches.
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