The last few weeks have been anything but placid for the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI). All told, it's down roughly 400 points since third-quarter earnings season kicked off. On Tuesday alone, it fell over 240 points, making it one of the worst days of the year for the blue chip index. This morning the tides seem to have turned temporarily, as the Dow started out the day in positive territory, though it's since delved back into the red.
What could fuel the Dow's ascent?
A number of positive economic-related news items came out today that could realistically spur the Dow to continue climbing. First, new orders for durable goods rose 9.9% for the month of September, reversing a slide in August due in large part to orders for civilian aircraft. The latter point was underscored yesterday when Boeing (NYSE:BA) reported a nearly 13% rise in revenue, albeit missing on the bottom line due to contracting margins.
Second, data released today show that applications for unemployment benefits fell last week. The reading fuels speculation that the labor market may finally be recovering.
Finally, the only Dow component company to report earnings today, Procter & Gamble (NYSE:PG) beat analyst estimates on the bottom line, though it came up short with respect to revenue. Its so-called core earnings came in at $1.06 a share, compared to the consensus estimate of $0.97. In addition, unlike other Dow components like Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) and Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT), P&G confirmed its full-year earnings outlook.
According to its chairman and chief executive officer, Bob McDonald: "We are making good progress against our productivity and cost savings program and improving core operating profit growth as we continue to execute our innovation and portfolio expansion plans. Looking ahead, we expect further acceleration in core operating profit growth in the fourth quarter driven by top-line growth, more favorable cost comparisons and productivity improvements."
In other news, the technology giant Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) is set to report earnings today after the bell -- click here to see the three storylines to watch when Apple reports. Shares in the company have suffered following its iPad mini release. Analysts have questioned the company's decision to price it at $329, out of the range of other similarly sized devices and close enough to the price of a full-sized iPad that some are worried it may cannibalize sales of the latter.
The Foolish bottom line
Whether the Dow ends the day higher or lower may seem like a big deal, but if you own stocks in any of these three American heavyweights, you're bound to sleep well at night. To learn the identity of these stocks before the rest of the market catches on, simply click hereÂ to download one of our most popular free reports.
John Maxfield has no positions in the stocks mentioned above. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple and Intel. Motley Fool newsletter services recommend Apple, Intel, and Procter & Gamble. 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 Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.