The Dow Jones Industrial Average ( ^DJI) is trading up 181 points (+1.4%) at 12,754 as of Friday, Jul 13, 2012, 11:35 a.m. ET. During this time, 251.7 million shares of the 30 Dow components have changed hands vs. an average daily trading volume of 683.8 million. The NYSE advances/declines ratio sits at 2,463 issues advancing vs. 458 declining with 94 unchanged.
The Dow component leading the way higher looks to be Merck (NYSE: MRK), which is sporting a 54-cent gain (+1.3%) bringing the stock to $43.45. This single gain is lifting the Dow Jones Industrial Average by 4.09 points or roughly accounting for 2.3% of the Dow's overall gain. Volume for Merck currently sits at 8.8 million shares traded vs. an average daily trading volume of 14.5 million shares. Merck has a market cap of $125.34 billion and is part of the health care sector and drugs industry. Shares are up 9.3% year to date as of Thursday's close. The stock's dividend yield sits at 4.1%. 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 18.4, equal to the average drugs industry P/E ratio and above 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 solid stock price performance, impressive record of earnings per share growth, compelling growth in net income, revenue growth and largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures. Although the company may harbor some minor weaknesses, we feel they are unlikely to have a significant impact on results.