The Dow's Best Stocks Today

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In the fast-paced world we live in, it's easy to forget that sometimes, you just have to wait. Today was a day like that for the stock market, with investors waiting for news from the Federal Reserve on monetary policy. In addition, bank stress-test results are expected later this week, and the results could have a huge impact on whether certain banks can boost their dividends back up toward pre-crisis levels. Although much of the stock market was lower, the Dow Jones Industrials (INDEX: ^DJI) finished up 38 points to close at 12,959.

Of course, some stocks did better than others. Let's take a look at three of the Dow's best performers.

ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM), up 1.5%
Often, the biggest oil companies move in tandem with the price of crude oil. But today, Exxon managed to rise sharply even on a down day for crude.

One thing that could be pushing Exxon shares up is news that the company is talking with Turkey's state energy company to help recover as much as 15 trillion cubic feet of shale gas in the Eurasian country. Although natural gas prices in the U.S. are low, the European markets that Turkey could serve feature much higher prices, making drilling more lucrative.

Another piece of good news came as Exxon has reportedly reached an agreement to get compensation from Iraq for its work on its West Qurna-1 oilfield there. The company didn't comment, but a deal would be a nice boost for the company.

Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT), up 1%
Given all the challenges Wal-Mart has faced in the U.S., some investors believe that international markets give the retailer its best chance at continued growth. Along those lines, Wal-Mart got some great news today.

After a long wait, a South African court has approved the retailers deal to acquire Massmart Holdings, the third-largest retailer in South Africa. The South African government had been concerned about the possible impact on jobs and local suppliers, but the court chose not to re-examine the deal, instead making Wal-Mart hire back some workers that Massmart had laid off. How Wal-Mart does in South Africa could tell a lot about its international prospects elsewhere, as similar issues exist throughout the world.

Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO), up 0.9%
It's always good to see your primary competitor take bold steps to try to counter your strength. That's what Coke is seeing today, as rival PepsiCo (NYS: PEP) announced a major restructuring to boost its own prospects.

PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi isn't going anywhere, but Americas Foods leader John Compton will assume a new role overseeing all of Pepsi's global groups, while the company is bringing back former Pepsi executive Brian Cornell from Wal-Mart's Sam's Club division to take over the Americas Foods division. The idea is to get Pepsi in position to challenge Coke as an international powerhouse. With the inside track, though, Coke has a big lead, and it'll take a lot for Pepsi to challenge it.

What will tomorrow bring?
Today's news could have long-term impacts on the companies involved. Start thinking about market-crushing returns by taking a look at the one stock that the Fool's chief investment officer picked it to crush the market. You'll find out its name in this free report: "The Motley Fool's Top Stock for 2012." Instant access is just a click away.

At the time this article was published Fool contributorDan Caplingerdoesn't own shares of the companies mentioned. You can follow him on Twitterhere. The Motley Fool owns shares of Wal-Mart, Coca-Cola, and PepsiCo.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, Wal-Mart, and Exxon Mobil; as well as creating diagonal call positions on PepsiCo and Wal-Mart. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insightsmakes us better investors. The Fool has adisclosure policy.

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