It was a great day on Wall Street as the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) moved higher by 128 points, or 0.83%, and set a new all-time record, as the index sits at 15,628. The S&P 500 also set a new milestone record as it broke the 1,700 mark, after rising 1.25% today, and now rests at 1,706, while the Nasdaq increased by 1.36%.
The markets received an abundance of good news to help push stocks higher and keep investors' minds off tomorrow's important jobs report. The unemployment claims for last week fell by 19,000; claims hit 329,000 for the week, which is nearly back to the historical levels we last saw prior to the recession. The PMI Manufacturing Index was also released today, which came in higher at 55.4% in July, after coming in at 50.9% in June. This indicates that the manufacturing community feels good about the economy moving forward.
The Dow's industrial stocks had a good day after this morning's PMI report, as Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT), Boeing (NYSE:BA), and United Technologies (NYSE:UTX) all moved higher. As my colleague Dan Carroll pointed out earlier today, for Caterpillar, a strong manufacturing industry here in the U.S. may be the company's only hope for growth. Europe is still a mess, and now that China's government is slowing the country's manufacturing, the world's second-largest economy isn't likely going to help Caterpillar's sales moving forward. So, today's report was surely a thing of beauty to many investors who own the Cat.
Today's PMI report indicated that transportation equipment continues to be relatively flat in the U.S., while growth remains stable in China. This certainly bodes well for Boeing, as the company continues to deal with issues stemming from its 787 Dreamliner, and United Technologies, which, along with Boeing, supplies a large amount of equipment to the U.S. military. As we move deeper into the sequestration cuts, its good to see that the aerospace industry has yet to be effected.
The Dow financial stocks all moved higher this afternoon, as Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) rose 2.4%, JPMorgan Chase moved higher by 1.45%. American Express increased by 2.52%, making it the best-performing Dow component of the day. The big moves from the financial sector come on the heels of the news yesterday that the companies may have the fees they receive from debit transactions lowered in the future. While all three of the firms currently only make a very small amount on each transaction -- we're talking pennies -- that still could shrink even more, and possibly to a point where the banks aren't making anything. But, even though they are currently only making maybe a penny or two every time one of their debit cards is used, the massive number of transactions that each bank experiences can make those pennies turn into millions of dollars.
One reason the industry may be rejoicing today is because Bank of America requested that a federal judge reject homeowners' efforts to sue the bank as a class action case. The bank is being sued over its failure to modify mortgage loans under the Home Affordable Modification Program. If the judge sides with the bank, it would lower the homeowners' leverage during litigation, and give Bank of America a better chance of winning the cases.
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Fool contributor Matt Thalman owns shares of Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase & Co.. Check back Monday through Friday as Matt explains what caused the Dow's winners and losers of the day, and every Saturday for a weekly recap. Follow Matt on Twitter @mthalman5513.
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