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What a difference a week can make.
Coming out of last week, which marked the worst week of 2012 for the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI ) , U.S. stock markets registered back-to-back days of consecutive gains to open this week, capped by an especially strong performance today. The Dow popped 194 points for a 1.5% gain on the day. In similarly bullish fashion, both the Nasdaq and S&P 500 also surged higher, ending the day up 1.6% and 1.8%, respectively. Investors showed signs of calming about the market's recent turmoil. The market's "fear gauge," the VIX (INDEX: ^VIX ) , fell today by 5.9% after spiking severely during last week's trading days. It seems investors are starting to find their cool and regain their faith in the slow-moving recovery still under way.
Around the markets
Investors had plenty of news to digest today, with several blue-chip companies reporting quarterly earnings. Among Dow components, Coca-Cola gained 2.1% and touched its highest levels in nearly 14 years after it been analysts' revenue and profit expectations. Tech stalwart IBM (NYSE: IBM ) increased its Q1 earnings by 7.1% and also raised its full-year profit guidance to $15 a share, versus analyst forecasts of $14.94. Big Blue jumped 2.3% during today's trading. On a gloomier note, semiconductor stud Intel's (Nasdaq: INTC ) profit declined 13% on essentially flat revenue. The introduction of a new production process drove the margin erosion. Investors frowned on the report, though, driving down Intel shares after hours by nearly 3%.
One of the day's most exciting news events took place outside the Dow. Cheniere Energy (NYSE: LNG ) traded 3.6% higher today on news that the federal government approved the company to construct a natural gas export facility in Louisiana. With nat gas prices in the U.S. trading at long-term lows, natural gas companies hope to capitalize on higher prices abroad, a move that would be a boon for companies operating in the industry.
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