The 2 Triggers of Today's Dow Surge

Politics, with its unpredictability, fits of irrationality, and -- let's be honest -- its fair share of scandals, behaves a bit like corporate America. Today, Washington showed not merely its similarity to Wall Street, but its influence over it, as Congress proposed a three-month extension to the debt limit. Markets responded warmly enough, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 53 points, or 0.39%, to close at 13,649, a five-year high. 

But Capitol Hill's suggested short-term debt limit fix wasn't the only thing that got stocks moving. That almighty catalyst known as GLP, or Good Lookin' Profit, had a hand in the bullishness, as well. General Electric's earnings, in particular, turned heads today. Not only did the multinational conglomerate beat analyst expectations, but its future looks bright, too. GE's increasing emerging-market industrial growth helped create $210 billion in backlog orders, which is a company record. 

Caterpillar shares were quick to follow GE's 3.5% jump with gains of their own, piggybacking on the GE GLPs as an indication of what's to come. Investors clearly think GE's success bodes well for Caterpillar's own quarterly results, coming on Jan. 28. Today's departure of an executive from the company's mining products division didn't seem to irk the markets, judging from the 2% advance.

On a different note, Intel , which was a top Dow gainer yesterday, got absolutely pummeled, after falling profits and disappointing forecasts spooked investors. The company's nearly 30% earnings decline actually beat estimates, but Intel projected much steeper capital expenditures in 2013. The subsequent 6.3% sell-off reflected worries about the future of a business ramping up costs in the face of wavering PC demand. 

Not all of tech suffered a beatdown on Friday, though. Mobile device maker Research in Motion jumped 6.2% on an upgrade from Jefferies. The newest model of RIM's BlackBerry operating system, the BlackBerry 10, is coming out at the end of this month. But the new BlackBerry isn't the sole reason analysts think RIM could recover; if the company makes its email platform compatible with Android and iOS, RIM could see some GLPs of its own. 

After the recent financial crisis, GE restructured, decreasing its emphasis on finance, and making strategic bets in emerging markets and energy. If you're a GE investor, you need to understand how these bets could drive this company to become the world's infrastructure leader. At the same time, you need to be aware of the threats to GE's portfolio. To help, we're offering comprehensive coverage for investors in a premium report on General Electric, in which our industrials analyst breaks down GE's multiple businesses. You'll find reasons to buy or sell GE, and you'll receive continuing updates as major events unfold during the year. To get started, click here now.

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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 Intel. The Motley Fool owns shares of General Electric Company and Intel. 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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