Fresh off last week's record-setting streak, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) is showing no signs of slowing down. As of 2:15 p.m. EDT, the Dow has picked up 40 points, or 0.29%, as it continues to explore uncharted heights. Most stocks are in the green today despite worrying figures from China. Let's get to the biggest stories of the index today.
Chinese concerns don't slow industrials
Chinese inflation figures nosed up 3.2% year over year last month -- a 1.2 percentage-point gain over January and a worrying sign for a nation trying to get a handle on rising prices. The world's second-largest economy is already grappling with a spike in housing sales that has sent prices soaring, as well as a slowdown in industrial production for the first two months of 2013. After the Chinese government announced intentions last week to tax new-home sales sharply, industrial players have expressed concern that the market could be in for a slowdown.
That's bad news for the Dow's top manufacturing companies, but stocks in the sector aren't feeling the heat today. Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT) and United Technologies (NYSE:UTX) rank near the top of the Dow with gains of about 0.6% apiece. These two industrial leaders have taken wildly different paths in 2013: While Caterpillar's stock has fallen more than 3%, UTC has pleased shareholders by gaining nearly 10%. Caterpillar's cheap valuation -- particularly for a blue-chip stock with plenty of growth prospects in China, despite the recent slowdown -- could tempt turnaround investors looking for a dip to buy on.
UTC's fellow conglomerate General Electric (NYSE:GE) isn't feeling the love today, however. Shares of GE have fallen 0.7% to lead all Dow laggards lower after company CEO Jeff Immelt warned shareholders in an annual letter that the volatile U.S. political situation could threaten investment and spending. Immelt cited the debt and tax reform and other issues while saying dividend raises and share buybacks were priorities for the company in the near future. Investors didn't take kindly to Immelt's words, though with GE pushing into emerging markets in Africa, the Middle East, and other developing economies, American politicians won't shut down this stock's growth prospects.
Today's leader has expressed considerably more confidence than Immelt. A senior executive at Boeing (NYSE:BA) announced his company's confidence that it has a permanent fix for the 787 Dreamliner's battery problem that first grounded the airliner fleet. Boeing also announced that it sees a strong market for aircraft going forward, with plenty of demand spurring its decision to increase production.