Stocks have shown increasing strength all day, while Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke continues his two-day congressional testimony, this time in front of the House Financial Services Committee. While Bernanke acknowledges that job growth is "frustratingly slow" and has voiced his concern over eurozone contagion and the fiscal cliff, it seems as if he is waiting until things get worse before implementing any more stimulus. Like a man fending off the zombie apocalypse with precious little ammo, it appears if the Fed will wait until the last possible moment to act.

That said, let's see how the three major indexes are faring and take a closer look at several Dow stocks making headlines.



Gain/Loss %

Intraday Value

Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI) 90.18 0.70% 12,895.72
Nasdaq 32.76 1.13% 2,942.80
S&P 500 8.47 0.62% 1,372.14

Source: Yahoo! Finance as of 2:15 p.m.

The Nasdaq is showing considerably greater gains than the Dow and S&P 500, while oil continues to holds its ground above the $90-per-barrel mark.

The reason for the Nasdaq's strength is a huge 2.7% move by the tech sector. Data storage titan EMC (NYSE: EMC) posted strong quarterly results, and -- more importantly -- reaffirmed its guidance for the year. Hardware makers in general have been beaten down thanks to weakness from certain segments of the industry. Although these are challenging times, it appears troubles are more localized, and investing in solid operators will give investors an edge.

And speaking of not-so-solid operators, MAKO Surgical (Nasdaq: MAKO) is shaking up its management suite. VP of sales Stephen Nunes resigned and CEO Maurice Ferre will take over on an interim basis. MAKO shares have plunged 37% and 43% the last two quarters as the company continues to miss estimates and revise guidance downward. On its most recent call, management didn't offer up any easy answers other than it would take time to convince larger corporate hospitals of the clinical and financial benefits of using a RIO device.

Shifting gears slightly to biotech, last night the FDA approved VIVUS' (Nasdaq: VVUS) anti-obesity drug Qsymia (formally Qnexa); shares are up 15% today. Approval was largely expected after the 20-2 advisory committee thumbs-up, and the prescribing restriction for women of child-bearing age (requiring birth control and monthly pregnancy tests) is not too onerous. Competitor Arena Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq: ARNA) is down 7% on the news. Belviq had worse efficacy on a placebo-adjusted weight loss basis, and is still going through DEA classification, meaning Qsymia will likely leapfrog it to the market. Considering the sheer size of the obesity crisis, there is more than enough room for both of these drugs to be blockbusters, and the competition may help raise public awareness of their availability.

Without a marketing partner, there's already speculation that VIVUS could be buyout candidate, but investors shouldn't put all of their eggs in explosive growth stocks -- no matter how good the story seems. For instance, the Dow is loaded with companies with solid dividend payouts and highly sustainable business models built for the long haul. The stocks highlighted in The Motley Fool's new special FREE report, "The 3 Dow Stocks Dividend Investors Need," all have an X factor that makes them stand out from their illustrious Dow peers and could make a nice complement to riskier growth stocks. Download it now, for free.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.