Caterpillar was the best performer in the Dow on Friday morning. Image source: Caterpillar.

The stock market hit a new all-time high Friday morning, with the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) reaching its best level ever. As of 11:15 a.m. EST, the index was still poised to beat its former record close of 2,090.57, set last December, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) gained another 46 points to climb above the 18,000 level, remaining in close pursuit of its own record high.

Within the Dow, heavy-equipment specialist Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT) provided the biggest lift, climbing 2%. The company has been hit hard recently by the drop in oil prices, as investors fear that falling capital expenditures will lead to lower demand for Caterpillar's machinery. Yet this morning, oil rose almost $2 to climb above the $53 per-barrel level, and internationally, Brent crude regained the $60 level for the first time in 2015. As enthusiasm about a potential energy recovery builds, Caterpillar will have the chance to regain some of its lost momentum and potentially see its troubling sales declines reverse themselves in the near future.

Source; North Face.

Elsewhere, S&P 500 component VF Corp. (NYSE:VFC) jumped 6%. The maker of North Face outdoor-wear and equipment reported sales growth of 8% in 2014, leading to adjusted earnings per share up 14% for the year after excluding one-time impairment charges. Positive guidance for 2015 helped boost the shares, but VF also benefited from the even better performance of rival Columbia Sportswear (NASDAQ:COLM), whose shares soared 17% after its own favorable earnings report. With some believing that VF could eventually seek to buy out Columbia, the outdoor and sports retail segment looks like an increasingly attractive place to be.

Finally, oil and gas company Denbury Resources (NYSE:DNR) rebounded 5% Friday morning, benefiting from improving oil prices. Yet Denbury has actually done an extremely good job of protecting itself from the decline in oil, with hedged positions that were worth as much as a third of the company's entire market capitalization as recently as last week. Although rising prices will hurt the value of those hedges, the overall strategy points to Denbury's awareness of changing market conditions and gives investors a more secure way to play the oil and gas sector right now.

The stock market has already defied expectations in how far it has come over the past six years. As companies like these three keep rising, further records could be coming for the stock market in 2015.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.