The day before big events is often a tense, back-and-forth affair for the stock market, and today was no exception. With the all-important Presidential election tomorrow, the markets initially opened lower, but by the end of the day, they had rebounded to post modest gains. The Dow Jones Industrials (^DJI 0.04%) finished the day with a 19-point advance, while broader markets saw somewhat larger gains in percentage terms.
Within the Dow, a few stocks posted noteworthy performances. Hewlett-Packard (HPQ 1.50%) was the big gainer in the Dow, rising almost 2%. Between news of a potential increased commitment to Linux and a decision from Procter & Gamble (PG -0.76%) to use its application support for an outreach project to consumers, HP inspired investors today to believe that perhaps the company will be able to execute its turnaround given enough time.
Caterpillar (CAT 0.79%) also managed a decent gain of more than 1% as some point to the heavy-equipment maker as a potential beneficiary of cleanup efforts related to Hurricane Sandy. Short-term impacts aside, though, Caterpillar really needs a stronger global macroeconomic environment to move the needle very far, and given its own questionable long-range outlook, it's hard to feel confident about the company's future right now.
Finally, Disney (DIS) gained almost 1%. Although a somewhat surprising $49 million box-office performance for the company's Wreck-It Ralph certainly wasn't bad news, the real long-term value proposition for Disney remains its $4 billion acquisition of Lucasfilm last week. The buy has huge potential to produce blockbuster films for years into the future.