Today was a relatively quietly day for the stock market as sluggish readings on existing home sales poured cold water on general enthusiasm about the state of the U.S. economy. By the end of trading, the Dow Jones Industrials (DJINDICES:^DJI) finished the day down 37 points while broader market measures fell similar amounts on a percentage basis. With the Federal Open Market Committee meeting later this week to discuss monetary policy and with key figures on employment coming out on Friday, investors appear to be in wait-and-see mode with respect to overall stock market moves.
But even with the Dow under pressure, a few stocks managed to post some sizable gains. Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT) led the Dow's gainers, rising 1.2% as the company announced that it would execute another $1 billion under an accelerated stock repurchase transaction, working with France's Societe Generale to facilitate the purchase. The transaction marks the second time Caterpillar has used the tactic, with a previously announced $1 billion repurchase in April having been completed last month. The moves show how healthy Caterpillar's cash flow is, but it's unclear how well they fit with the company's less optimistic assessment of its long-term earnings outlook.
Verizon (NYSE:VZ) posted gains of 0.9% even as the leader of Canada's Industry Ministry met with leaders of various Canadian mobile operators in order to discuss Verizon's potential move into the Canadian market. Canadian companies are concerned that Verizon and other U.S. carriers could have the inside track at wireless spectrum auctions to be held next January, with competitive advantages that could put their established franchises at risk. Given the need for Verizon to find new growth avenues, making use of every competitive advantage it can get would be a positive for the company.
Finally, UnitedHealth (NYSE:UNH) rose 0.8%. A report over the weekend found that almost half of all states expect to expand their Medicaid programs in order to meet demand for poor residents seeking health insurance coverage under Obamacare's individual mandate. The news gives UnitedHealth and other insurance companies a second bite at the health-care apple, as the company can seek both to cover individuals through insurance policies as well as go after lucrative Medicaid business at the state level.
Fool contributor Dan Caplinger has no position in any stocks mentioned. You can follow him on Twitter @DanCaplinger. The Motley Fool recommends UnitedHealth Group. 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.