Flat trading continued for a second day, but after teasing investors with a positive finish, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI) gained 11 points, or 0.1%, and was the only major index to close in the green. The Nasdaq missed by less than a point, while the S&P 500 turned in a slightly larger decline. This is where a police officer would tell you to move along, as there's nothing to see here -- but that isn't totally the case.
Several company-specific stories continue to gain ground, none larger than the Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL), which finished above $700 per share and hit all time high in the process. Anticipation for the iPhone 5 continues to ramp up, as 2 million preorders have analysts projecting as many as 8 million total sales on the opening weekend. Investors can only hope it won't be seen as a disappointment if Apple doesn't hit that lofty number.
On the Dow, a little over one-third of the index finished with gains, the largest of which belonged to Kraft (Nasdaq: KFT). The consumer-goods company gained 1.8% on the day, leading the Dow higher one last time before making its exit from the index in exchange for UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) on Sept. 21. Expect shares of the managed-care giant to rise around that time, as funds tracking the index will need to add it to their portfolios.
Thanks to the Dow's unique weighting system, the majority of the index's gains came from Caterpillar's (NYSE: CAT) 1.2% increase. Optimism around homebuilders is at a multiyear high, as the backlog of housing inventory is unsustainably low. Increased construction will be good for Cat as well as the overall economy, even if it doesn't help homeowners who are underwater on their mortgages.
The 2012 elections loom large, but the Fool has you covered with our new special free report, "These Stocks Could Skyrocket After the 2012 Presidential Election," where you'll get ideas for several stocks poised to benefit from each candidate's specific platform. Click here to get your free copy.