Caterpillar Inc. (CAT)’s Surge Pushes Dow (.DJI) 15K

Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE:CAT)It took a lot longer than many pundits predicted, but we finally hit that ballyhooed mark: Dow 15,000. The blue-chip index briefly tipped over the 15,000-point mark during today’s triple-digit surge. As of 2:15 p.m. EDT, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEXDJX:.DJI) has pulled in gains of 150 points, or 1%, to sit just below its earlier highs. Stocks are on a roll today, and investors are patting themselves on the back — particularly investors in Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE:CAT), which has soared today. Here are the top stories you need to know on this record-setting day.

Good news across the board
The jobless rate fell to a four-year low last month, and optimism surrounding the U.S.’s slow but steady recovery sent the Dow Jones Industrial Average (Dow Jones Indices:.DJI) rolling higher to start the day. The good news has extended beyond the 7.5% unemployment rate: The jobless decline came after the European Central Bank sparked investor confidence across the Atlantic by cutting its interest rate to a new low.

Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE:CAT)’s stock has taken off as a result of investors in the economically reliant stock feeling better about the direction of the economy. Shares of the firm have jumped 3.8% today, and even though Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE:CAT) still ranks among the worst-performing members of the Dow this year, the company still sits atop its industry. In a cyclical sector like manufacturing, Caterpillar will be one of the best-positioned companies to capitalize on a future economic turnaround — and investors buying in on the stock’s dip will reap the rewards.

Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE:CAT) is hardly the only manufacturing stock having a good day, however. Alcoa Inc (NYSE:AA) ranks among the top Dow leaders with gains of 2.2%. The company announced today that it’s considering cutting smelting capacity by as much as 11% in response to aluminum prices, which have been stuck in a rut for some time now. The move could allow Alcoa Inc (NYSE:AA) to cut costs and help drive up prices in the market by reducing production and supply, which would help in the near term — although increased Chinese production, which some analysts expect to pick up by more than 10% this year, could hurt Alcoa Inc (NYSE:AA)’s goals. The company’s shift toward producing aluminum products for industries such as aerospace has also brightened the firm’s future, even as its stock continues to struggle in 2013.