Despite a Federal Reserve meeting and a monthly jobs report, it was a fairly quiet week for stocks on Wall Street. The march of solid bottom-line growth continued for most companies, but we continued to see muted revenue growth overall. By the time trading closed on Friday the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) had gained 0.64% for the week and the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) was up 1.07%.
DuPont (NYSE:DD) was up 3.9% this week after winning approval to acquire a majority stake in Plannar Seed, a South African company with access to a continent with immense growth potential. Africa is behind the rest of the world in genetically engineered crops, and DuPont will try to use Pannar as a way to exploit the market. This also gives DuPont a larger footprint to compete against Monsanto, which will allow its research dollars to go further.
Shares of Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) were also up 3.9% this week. Rumors swirled that HP is building a new smartphone, finally getting into a market that's largely passed the company by. The Palm acquisition a few years ago was supposed to be what HP needed to move into the market, but that clearly didn't work out well, so the company has to start from scratch now. There's no official word from the company about a smartphone, but it would be shocking if HP didn't take a shot at smartphones, given that it's one of the fastest-growing areas in tech.
Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT) was the third best stock on the Dow, rising 2.7% this week. A big driver was a better-than-expected PMI Manufacturing Index on Thursday, which at 55.4% came in well ahead of the 50% level that indicates expansion in manufacturing. The U.S. may actually be the only bright spot for Caterpillar, given the endless recession in Europe and rapidly slowing infrastructure and mining spending in China. Macro effects are working against the company right now, so any nugget of small news can get investors excited.