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Strength among a few blue chips has the Dow up solidly to its best level in nearly three years, but the tech-rich Nasdaq remains mired near the neutral line.
Shares of Caterpillar (CAT 115.62, +2.98) have spiked to a record high on the back of a better-than-expected earnings report. An upside earnings surprise from Merck (MRK 35.90, +0.13) and an analyst upgrade of Procter & Gamble (PG 64.96, +0.46) have helped the Dow extend its recent streak of gains - it's up for the seventh time in eight sessions.
Microsoft (MSFT 25.59, -1.12) has been a drag on the Dow, though. Its 4% drop comes as investors shrug off better-than-expected earnings in light of the firm's narrowed margins and reduced target prices among a handful of analysts. Verizon (VZ 37.75, -0.52) has also hampered the Dow following its downgrade at Citigroup.
Research In Motion (RIMM 49.01, -7.58) is in some of the worst shape of any stock this session. Its precipitous drop to a a six-month low comes in response to a disappointing forecast.
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