Today's Big Dow Winners

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After yesterday's rally to start the fourth quarter, news from Spain spoiled investors' confidence. Spain's prime minister stomped on the rumor that his country was ready to ask for a European Union bailout. The Fool's John Maxfield believes part of the slide can also be contributed to a hedge-fund manager's comments about a number of different companies. Regardless, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI) wiped out most of the gains from yesterday's rally. The index closed at 13,482, down more than 32 points, or 0.2%. But not all was lost, as a number of stocks ended the day up.

And the winners are ...
UnitedHeath Group
(NYSE: UNH) saw its shares rise by 0.60% during today's trading session. Very little news could be found pertaining to the company, but one eye-catching health-care-related story involved Washington Post (NYSE: WPO) . This story wasn't one you could read about only in the Post; it was that the newspaper company was buying a majority stake in health-care provider Celtic Healthcare. While this addition may seem odd considering Washington Post's current business mix, it does show that outsiders are feeling positive about the future of the health-care industry.

Although Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) briefly lost the coveted spot as the second-largest company in the world, Google's market capitalization was briefly higher today, but Mr. Softy ended the day still holding the title. Bill Gates' software company ended the day up 0.58%. This comes a day after Hewlett-Packard unveiled its newest tablet, the HP ElitePad 900, which will run on the Windows 8 operating system.

Another Dow Component trading higher today was Merck (NYSE: MRK) . The drug manufacturer finished the day 0.56% higher following a late announcement yesterday that Gardasil, Merck's vaccine to prevent cervical cancer, was shown to be safe from any major side effects. The findings came from the second large-scale study performed on the drug in just the past year.

On Tuesday, it was also announced that Merck had entered into a partnership with Ablynx, a Belgian drug developer. Merck will gain exclusive rights to special nanobodies made by Ablynx scientists, which are one-tenth the size of normal antibodies. The size difference means they could be taken orally, as opposed to previously being injected, and the antibodies may therefore be able to reach new targets in the body.

While these stocks rose today, they may fall tomorrow. Every company is susceptible to market news and macroeconomic events, and a major market-moving event is quickly approaching: the presidential election. A few stocks could skyrocket, depending on who gets elected. To find out which ones before you miss out, click here.

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