The Dow is relatively unchanged today, given a mixed U.S. economic release and no new news about the fiscal cliff. As of 1:25 p.m. EST, the Dow Jones Industrial Average is down 15 points, or 0.11%. The S&P 500 is down 0.22%.

This morning the U.S. Department of Commerce reported housing starts fell 27,000 to 861,000. Analysts had expected housing starts to fall to 865,000. While that is a 3% month-over-month drop and far below the 2 million level that was consistently seen in the boom years of 2004 to 2006, year-over-year housing starts are up 22%.

US Housing Starts Chart


US Housing Starts data by YCharts.

Score of indicators have shown growth in the housing industry for the past few months. Just yesterday the National Association of Home Builders' housing-market index rose two points from November to 47 -- its highest level since April 2006.

In fiscal-cliff news, yesterday House Speaker John Boehner proposed a "Plan B" option to fall back on in case talks fail. The White House rejected any such measure, as it would rather force Congress to come up with a compromise instead of kicking the can down the road. Today, the White House reiterated its rejection of Boehner's backup plan, saying it would veto the plan if it came to the president's desk. The Motley Fool has created a special page that will be updated with all of our latest fiscal-cliff coverage to help cut through the daily noise and give you the information and analysis you need as an investor. Head on over for everything you need to know about fiscal cliff 2012.

Today's Dow leader
Today's Dow leader is United Technologies up 1.6%. The company has had a good year: It acquired Goodrich earlier in the year and is up 14% year to date. United Technologies is up today on the relatively good news about housing starts' continuing strength. The company's fire and security division, as well as its carrier division, which makes HVAC products, will benefit from a rising housing market. The two divisions make up roughly one-third of United Technologies' revenue.

Dow stalwart Boeing is up 0.36%. The defense contractors are up because the House and Senate joint defense conference decided on a $640.7 billion spending bill to fund the Defense and Energy departments for the coming year. The bill is expected to be voted on tomorrow by both the House and Senate and approved by the president shortly thereafter. Meanwhile, several of United Technologies' aerospace divisions will benefit as well.

The opportunities for defense contractors are absolutely massive. Boeing is well-positioned to benefit, but the company's execution problems and emerging competitors have investors wondering whether Boeing will live up to its shareholder responsibilities. In this premium research report, two of The Fool's best industrial-sector minds have collaborated to provide investors with info on the must-know issues regarding Boeing. They'll be updating the report as key news hits, so be sure to claim a copy today by clicking here now.

The article Why This Stock Is Beating a Shiftless Dow originally appeared on Fool.com.

Dan Dzombak can be found on Twitter @DanDzombak or on his Facebook page: DanDzombak. He has no positions in any of the companies mentioned above.The Motley Fool has no positions in the stocks mentioned above. 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.

Copyright © 1995 - 2012 The Motley Fool, LLC. All rights reserved. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


Increase your money and finance knowledge from home

What is Short Selling?

Make a profit when stocks prices fall.

View Course »

Introduction to Preferred Shares

Learn the difference between preferred and common shares.

View Course »

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum