In a shortened pre-holiday session, few professional traders expect anything too exciting to happen. Even though geopolitical tensions are back in the news as Iran threatens to close the Strait of Hormuz, better-than-expected data on U.S. factory orders for May reversed an unexpected decline in orders during the previous month. That good news helped send the stock market modestly higher. By 10:45 a.m. EDT, the Dow Jones Industrials (INDEX: ^DJI) were up about 36 points.

Among Dow stocks, Alcoa (NYSE: AA) was the best performer, rising 3% and more than making up for yesterday's loss. The aluminum maker is highly sensitive to manufacturing and factory-related data, so it's not surprising to see the stock react positively to today's news. Moreover, earnings season is just about to begin, and if Alcoa can provide as big a positive surprise this time around as it did last quarter, it could get the season off to a strong start.

On the other side of the coin was Home Depot (NYSE: HD), which fell more than 2%. News sources cited a cut in the International Council of Shopping Centers' forecast for retail chain store sales, but what's more likely is simply that investors saw valuations get ahead of the home-improvement retail companies' prospects and consequently bid them lower.

Finally, both Chevron (NYSE: CVX) and ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM) rose on higher oil prices following Iran's threats. After a big drop in crude oil, the recent bounce has only gained back a portion of those losses, but energy companies are poised to rise sharply if tensions in the Persian Gulf persist.

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Fool contributor Dan Caplinger doesn't own shares of the companies mentioned. You can follow him on Twitter @DanCaplinger. The Motley Fool owns shares of ExxonMobil. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Chevron and Home Depot. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Fool has a disclosure policy.