Why General Electric Is Crushing the Dow Right Now

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The Dow Jones Industrials Average (INDEX: ^DJI) popped big in early morning trading and jumped as high as 12,722, but now has fallen back a bit on mixed news for the day. Eurozone fears are escalating as the likelihood of a Greece-less European Union inches toward probability each day. But for every ying there is a yang, and today it's positive housing and factory data that are keeping the Dow treading water. The commerce department shows builders adding 2.6% to new homes in April. The Federal Reserve also revealed that industrial production climbed 1.1% in April, which should be a promising sign for the auto bulls out there.

Here's a look at how the three major indexes are digesting the news.

Index

Gain/Loss

Gain/Loss %

Ending Value

Dow Jones Industrial Average3.260.03%12,635
Nasdaq(13.63)(0.47%)2,879
S&P 500(1.81)(0.14%)1,328

Source: Google.com/finance.


Today's starlets
But the real diva today is megaconglomerate General Electric (NYS: GE) . The stock is soaring 3.9% after it was announced that the company will be providing a $4.1 million credit facility to Jimmy John's franchisee Hinz JJ. There was also the small detail that its GE Capital division has resumed a dividend to the parent company for the first time since 2009. OK, that second one is actually a pretty big deal. In fact, it's one of the crucial GE signals we discussed earlier.

The dividend from GE Capital to GE has been regarded as a crucial indication that the battered and bruised division has returned as a strong division again. Expected uses of the cash include share buybacks, acquisitions, or a larger dividend to shareholders.

The company also made a $700 million acquisition of mining equipment company industrea. The move comes at a time when the mining sector is booming, as evidenced by Caterpillar's (NYS: CAT) largest-ever acquisition of Bucyrus last year and its recent strong mining gains abroad.

Today's dogs
Off the Dow, however, there are some real dogs today. Both Staples (NAS: SPLS) and J.C. Penney (NYS: JCP) are falling hard after the former missed sales on weakness from Europe (surprise) and the latter announced disappointing first-quarter profit and that it would discontinue its dividend. While I think Staples is a great long-term buy-and-hold dividend churner, its heavy exposure to Europe will likely remain a drag for as long as the region continues to spiral into uncertainty, especially after the company's 2008 acquisition of Corporate Express. I've been outspoken against J.C. Penney in the past, but the scope of this miss even took me by surprise. Those investors who were holding their breath for Ron Johnson to work his magic may want to jump ship, because it looks like this turnaround is still a long way off.

What to make of it
While watching the market each day can be fun, it's also very stressful. Instead, we suggest you tune out the commotion of the day-to-day movements and instead focus on learning about individual companies inside and out, like General Electric. After today's big news, many investors may think General Electric is a buy, but we'll actually give you a few reasons you should sell GE today. Whether you're a current GE shareholder or thinking about becoming one, it's worth learning about both the bear and bull cases for this stock. Read more here.

At the time this article was published Austin Smith owns no shares of the companies mentioned here. The Motley Fool owns shares of Staples.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of Staples. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insightsmakes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days.

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