Why the Dow Closed at an All-Time High Today

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While the S&P 500 Index slipped Tuesday, breaking a four-day rally that had sent it to an all-time closing high, the 30-stock, price-weighted Dow Jones Industrial Average reached new closing records of its own today on strong earnings. A weak manufacturing outlook in the mid-Atlantic region and a warning from House Speaker John Boehner that more spending cuts will be needed for further debt ceiling increases later this year held stocks in check. Still, the Dow was able to add 22 points, or 0.1%, ending at 15,567, an all-time high.

United Technologies led all blue-chip gainers, surging 3% as earnings per share rocketed 27%. Because United Technologies is the fifth-heaviest weighted stock in the index, this earnings beat played a vital role in keeping the Dow in the green. Of course, no one's complaining about a surprisingly robust quarter, but investors always want to know if they can expect more to come. As luck would have it, the company also boosted full-year 2013 projections, earning the proverbial applause of Wall Street.

PC maker Hewlett-Packard , up a remarkable 80% this year after a miserable 2012 that saw the stock register as the Dow's worst performer, gained 0.9%, continuing its recent bullish trajectory. Today's advance comes as the company unveils new "Z series" workstations. The line of high-functioning desktops was designed with professionals like engineers, architects, designers, and photographers in mind, as well as other "knowledge workers and specialists" with high demands for image quality and performance, according to HP's press release.

McDonald's continued the slump it began yesterday after failing to impress with its latest earnings report; the stock lost another 0.8% after yesterday's 2.7% slump. Mickey D's cited higher advertising costs and escalating price competition as two of its biggest setbacks in the quarter, apparently both sentiments that rival Wendy's vouched for today. Overshadowing that, however, was the fact that Wendy's was able to beat profit estimates while McDonald's was not.

Lastly, property and casualty insurer Travelers sank 3.8% to end at the bottom of the Dow. You'd never guess it after considering the shellacking the stock took today, but the company actually blew away Wall Street estimates, earning $2.41 per share when analysts were looking for just $1.64 per share. So why the shellacking? Well, it appears Travelers was somehow able to overcharge customers for an entire quarter, and, because people are starting to notice, the insurer has to quickly lower its prices before things get ugly.


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The article Why the Dow Closed at an All-Time High Today originally appeared on Fool.com.

Fool contributor John Divine has no position in any stocks mentioned.  You can follow him on Twitter @divinebizkid and on Motley Fool CAPS @TMFDivine . The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of McDonald's. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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