These Stocks Are Leading the Dow Higher

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At the halfway point of the trading day, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI) was up 40 points (0.3%) to 13,523. The S&P 500 (INDEX: ^GSPC) is up seven points (0.51%) to 1,453.

Today's two major economic releases were mixed for stocks. The first was ADP's private-sector jobs report, which comes out two days before the Department of Labor's September jobs report. According to ADP, the private sector added 162,000 jobs in September -- better than analyst expectations of 152,000 but below the 189,000 jobs added in August.

The second economic release today was the Institute for Supply Management's Non-Manufacturing Index. The index rose to 55.1 in September from 53.7 in August. It's hard to tell whether the increase is a trend or not; the index has been fluctuating in the low 50s for the past two years.

ISM Non-Manufacturing Index Chart

ISM Non-Manufacturing Index data by YCharts.

The markets overall are up, and a few stocks are pushing the Dow higher.

Today's Dow leaders
Today's Dow leader is Disney (NYSE: DIS) , up 1.95% ($1.01) to $56.63. Disney has a new movie, Frankenweenie, coming out Friday from acclaimed director Tim Burton. Disney is one of several consumer discretionary stocks in the Dow to post some amazing results recently. Last month, the company reported earnings per share this past quarter of $1.01, 31% higher than the prior-year quarter and better than analysts' expectations of $0.93 per share. The great results were driven by box-office hit The Avengers, which finished the third-highest-grossing movie of all time with $1.5 billion in sales. Already up 40% year to date, Disney looks like a screaming buy to Fool analyst Tim Beyers. Click here for his take.

Second for the day is Bank of America (NYSE: BAC) , up 1.62% ($0.14) to $9.07. The Fed's recent stimulus announcement has pushed up the banking sector as a whole. The stimulus will be a boon for the big banks, as their performance is highly dependent on the health of the economy. Today's unexpectedly positive ISM Non-Manufacturing Index bodes well for the economy, and as such, the bank is up. Fool analyst John Maxfield believes Bank of America is the Dow's best stock. He recently took an in-depth look at Bank of America and identified the three biggest risks to the bank. Click here for his take.

The best approach
The rest of the week is full of potentially market-shaking events. Watching the broad market each day is exciting, but investing doesn't have to be gut-wrenching and stressful. If you're in the mood to pick up some solid buys for the long term, The Motley Fool has created a brand-new free report from Motley Fool's expert analysts called "2 Dirt Cheap Stocks With Huge Dividends." It won't be available forever, so click here -- it's free.

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