With all the hoopla over the possibility that the Dow Jones Industrials (DJINDICES:^DJI) will set a brand-new closing record today, few investors are looking beyond the blue-chip average. But the Dow's sister benchmark, the Dow Jones Transportation Average, has been hitting new highs for a while now, and it's poised to hit a brand-new one today as well.
So far today, 19 of the 20 Dow Transports are trading higher, and the average has gained 1.6% as of 2:35 p.m. EST, outpacing even the strong performance of the Dow Industrials. FedEx (NYSE:FDX) is among the leading gainers, climbing more than 2.3% to a new multiyear high. As optimism about the economy grows, FedEx stands to gain from the accompanying jump in demand for its delivery services. Moreover, favorable trends like the push toward same-day delivery among retailers gives both FedEx and rival United Parcel Service (NYSE:UPS) good prospects for further growth, regardless of how strong the overall economy performs.
Airlines within the average also did well, with United Continental (NYSE:UAL) and Alaska Air Group (NYSE:ALK) up about 2.4% each. Airlines have seen their stocks soar in recent months, but some analysts had expected that once the merger between US Airways and American Airlines was complete, that run would come to an end. Yet airlines have seen their financial condition improve dramatically with the imposition of fees for baggage and other ancillary services, and even the lack of further consolidation in the industry shouldn't pose a threat to that lucrative revenue stream going forward.
The Dow Industrials make some of the most important products in the economy, but the Dow Transports make sure those goods get to you. With both averages poised to set records, it's no wonder investors are feeling good about the prospects for the U.S. economy today.
Fool contributor Dan Caplinger has no position in any stocks mentioned. You can follow him on Twitter @DanCaplinger. The Motley Fool recommends FedEx and United Parcel Service. 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.