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Dow Soars to New Highs With UnitedHealth at Its Side

By Jessica Alling - Apr 2, 2013 at 12:00PM

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New economic data brought the good news the Dow needed to break its slump.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI 0.60%) jumped this morning following a slight decline yesterday. Up by 103 points so far this morning, the index has surpassed another milestone with a new intraday high -- which could very well be overshadowed by gains throughout the day. Positive news from various sectors of the economy has jolted investors back into action after several weeks of international and economic concerns.

Factory orders were up in the month of February by 3%, just slightly above the 2.9% increase expected by analysts. The overall gain was boosted by increased orders in the aircraft industry, while all other categories only gained 0.3%. Motor vehicle sales data released this morning showed a surge in buying activity as the economy continues to recover. Analysts at Edmunds.com raised the annual sales forecast for 2013 to 15.5 million vehicles on the strength of the sales data released by the car manufacturers. Ford (F 2.33%) had a 5.7% increase in sales during March, while Chrysler also boasted of a 6% increase. This is the best month on record for the Detroit Big Three since December 2007.

Dow winners
UnitedHealth Group (UNH 0.11%) is soaring this morning, up 6.77%, following a ruling from the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services stating that Medicare Advantage payouts will not be cut by the previously expected 2.2%, but will increase by 3.3%. The stock gained 3.1% yesterday after the ruling and continued to climb from there to a seven-year high. After the news, UnitedHealth was also upgraded by analysts at Raymond James to a "strong buy" from "outperform," while other firms either reiterated their buy rating or upgraded the company to a buy. Health insurance stocks have gained across the board on the news, with other medical-related companies piggybacking on the ruling's positive outcome.

Proctor & Gamble (PG -1.64%) and Pfizer (PFE 0.56%) are both up this morning as well, both with a 1.4% improvement. On top of any benefit that the two companies may receive from the Medicare Advantage ruling, P&G has recently announced that 25% of its factories are now zero-waste. On top of the 45 currently designated zero-waste factories, another 20 are on the brink of the designation -- a big boon for P&G, which is aiming for all its factories to meet the requirements by 2020. Pfizer hasn't had the same great news for investors, as it recently failed its attempts to have lawsuits from Celebrex users dismissed. Along with its 10% decline so far in 2013, the drugmaker is enjoying any positive gains it can get its hands on.

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Stocks Mentioned

Dow Jones Industrial Average (Price Return) Stock Quote
Dow Jones Industrial Average (Price Return)
^DJI
$32,120.28 (0.60%) $191.66
Pfizer Inc. Stock Quote
Pfizer Inc.
PFE
$53.71 (0.56%) $0.30
The Procter & Gamble Company Stock Quote
The Procter & Gamble Company
PG
$145.21 (-1.64%) $-2.42
UnitedHealth Group Incorporated Stock Quote
UnitedHealth Group Incorporated
UNH
$498.09 (0.11%) $0.53
Ford Motor Company Stock Quote
Ford Motor Company
F
$12.71 (2.33%) $0.29

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

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