The

Dow Jones Industrial Average

(

^DJI

) is trading down 47.0 points (-0.4%) at 12,372 as of Thursday, May 31, 2012, 9:35 a.m. ET. During this time, 19.6 million shares of the 30 Dow components have changed hands vs. an average daily trading volume of 728.7 million. The NYSE advances/declines ratio sits at 938 issues advancing vs. 1,667 declining with 191 unchanged.

The Dow component leading the way higher looks to be

Merck

(NYSE:

MRK

), which is sporting a 33-cent gain (+0.9%) bringing the stock to $37.73. Volume for Merck currently sits at 405,078 shares traded vs. an average daily trading volume of 13.9 million shares.

Merck has a market cap of $114.33 billion and is part of the

health care

sector and

drugs

industry. Shares are down 0.3% year to date as of Wednesday's close. The stock's dividend yield sits at 4.5%.

Merck & Co., Inc. provides various health solutions through its prescription medicines, vaccines, biologic therapies, animal health, and consumer care products. The company has a P/E ratio of 16.8, equal to the average drugs industry P/E ratio and below the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7.

TheStreet Ratings rates Merck as a

buy

. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures, impressive record of earnings per share growth, compelling growth in net income and good cash flow from operations. Although no company is perfect, currently we do not see any significant weaknesses which are likely to detract from the generally positive outlook.

Holding back the Dow today is

Caterpillar

(NYSE:

CAT

), which is lagging the broader Dow index with a $2.51 decline (-2.8%) bringing the stock to $87.67. This single loss is lowering the Dow Jones Industrial Average by 19.0 points or roughly accounting for 40.4% of the Dow's overall loss. Volume for Caterpillar currently sits at 851,957 shares traded vs. an average daily trading volume of 6.8 million shares.

Caterpillar has a market cap of $60.37 billion and is part of the

conglomerates

sector and

conglomerates

industry. Shares are up 2.1% year to date as of Wednesday's close. The stock's dividend yield sits at 2%.

Caterpillar Inc. manufactures and sells construction and mining equipment, diesel and natural gas engines, industrial gas turbines, and diesel-electric locomotives worldwide. The company has a P/E ratio of 11.7, equal to the average conglomerates industry P/E ratio and below the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7.

TheStreet Ratings rates Caterpillar as a

buy

. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its robust revenue growth, notable return on equity, impressive record of earnings per share growth and compelling growth in net income. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had generally poor debt management on most measures that we evaluated.

null