The Dow Jones Industrials (DJINDICES:^DJI) aimed toward their seventh all-time high of the year Thursday, rising 96 points at 12:30 p.m. EDT to join the S&P 500 in prospective record territory. After initially riding a roller coaster tied to today's policy moves from the European Central Bank, investors in the Dow decoupled the strong U.S. stock market from its weaker-performing European counterparts. The strength in blue-chip components Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT) and Boeing (NYSE:BA) showed where investors have the most confidence in the ability of the U.S. to take advantage of Europe's weakness.
Caterpillar jumped nearly 2%, continuing the heavy-equipment giant's run higher in 2014. Investors hope that better conditions in Europe will spur construction and infrastructure development, and Caterpillar stands to gain a substantial amount of that business if it materializes. But even outside Europe, Caterpillar has already seen signs of a rebound on the construction side of its business, and that has helped pull the Dow component's stock up from the depths it reached during 2013. As important as Europe is, other parts of the global economy arguably could have an even greater impact on Caterpillar, with the Asia-Pacific region being particularly important in the company's growth strategy. Meanwhile, if the mining industry can recover from terrible conditions in the commodities markets, then a Caterpillar turnaround could finally be complete.
Boeing's 1.3% gain came after the aerospace manufacturer celebrated another milestone in its 787 Dreamliner program -- delivering its first aircraft to Dutch airline Arke. Arke is just one of many airlines that exclusively fly Boeing-built aircraft, and alongside the importance of keeping the world's largest air carriers happy, Boeing will also need to treat its most loyal customers well by making deliveries as soon as possible on their orders. With ramped-up production of 787 Dreamliners and other key aircraft models, Boeing hopes to get its extensive backlog of orders to a more manageable level and to open the door to further growth in the years and decades to come.
Many investors have worried that the Dow Jones Industrials have come so far over the past five years that a pullback is inevitable. For now, though, investors seem content to take positive news from companies like Caterpillar and Boeing as a sign that the broader bull market can continue. If the global economy keeps making forward progress, those beliefs among investors could well become reality.