Stocks shot higher out of the gate this morning, with yet another blowout blue-chip earnings report sparking a wave of buying pressure. Right on the heels of an upside surprise from Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) on Tuesday, it was tech titan Intel's (INTC) turn to storm the earnings stage today. Shares of the chip company gapped higher in the wake of a stronger-than-forecast first-quarter report, creating a halo lift for many of INTC's tech-sector peers. Fellow Dow member United Technologies (UTX) also emerged as an earnings winner, with the aerospace issue bolting to a fresh record peak after hiking its full-year forecast. Another round of upbeat housing data also helped the bullish case, as the National Association of Realtors (NAR) noted a 3.7% rise in existing home sales for March. Against this upbeat backdrop, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rallied to its highest price in nearly three years -- while the CBOE Market Volatility Index (VIX - 15.08) sank to its lowest level since mid-2007.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA – 12,453.54) ended the day on an impressive gain of 186.8 points, or 1.5%, as 24 of its 30 components closed higher. INTC and UTX led the advancing issues, adding 7.8% and 4.3%, respectively. On the other hand, Pfizer (PFE) paced the six laggards with a 0.7% loss. The Dow peaked at 12,475.53 on an intraday basis, marking its loftiest level since June 6, 2008. As a result of today's rally, the blue-chip barometer ended north of its 10-day moving average for the first time since April 11.
The S&P 500 Index (SPX – 1,330.36) fared similarly well, tacking on 17.7 points, or 1.4%, to reclaim a spot above its own 10-day trendline. However, the SPX peaked at 1,332.66 today, just shy of the key 1,333 level -- a double of its 2009 low. Finally, the Nasdaq Composite (COMP – 2,802.51) conquered a critical technical hurdle, ending its first session above 2,800 since Feb. 18. The COMP collected a daily gain of 57.5 points, or 2.1% -- its best performance since Oct. 5.
Turning to equities in focus, Yahoo (YHOO) gained some serious ground in the wake of its stronger-than-forecast first-quarter earnings report ... Cree (CREE) was hammered by negative analyst notes after providing a bleak fourth-quarter forecast ... State Street (STT) scored a pair of post-earnings price-target hikes ... The experts at MidnightTrader.com sized up the pre-earnings odds for General Electric (GE) ... Ahead of its own quarterly report, bullish speculation is ramping up on Merck & Co. (MRK) ... and today's Quote of the Day comes from Chris Davis, the chairman of Davis Advisors. In a recent Fortune interview, Davis offered a contrarian-friendly reason why he's heavily invested in several financial names -- specifically, no one else seems to like them. As Davis explained it:
"If a company has the name 'financial' in it, it's the F-word."
But these weren't the only headlines hitting the Street today. Click on the links below for our blog coverage of:
And, in case you missed it, Senior Technical Strategist Ryan Detrick stopped by CNBC to explain why he thinks the VIX could go even lower. Click here to watch the video.
For today's activity in crude oil, gold futures, options, and more, turn to page 2.
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