Why the Markets Soared Today

When the biggest company in the market posts blockbuster earnings and its stock jumps 9%, you can just about count on it being a good day. Breaking down the numbers:

  • Gains for the U.S. stock market centered on the Nasdaq Composite (INDEX: ^IXIC  ) , which was up more than 2% because of Apple's huge weighting in the tech-heavy index. The S&P 500 (INDEX: ^GSPC  ) was up almost 1.4%, while the Dow Jones Industrials (INDEX: ^DJI  ) were the relative laggards, up just 0.7%.
  • Overseas, stocks were similarly mixed. London's FTSE 100 (INDEX: ^FTSE  ) rose just 0.2%, but French and German stocks posted gains of around 2%, while Japan's Nikkei (INDEX: ^N225) came in with a 1% gain.
  • After a big drop on the heels of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's comments about the current state of the economy, gold ended the day roughly flat. Oil prices rose slightly, closing at around $104 per barrel.

Perhaps the most interesting insight of the day came from the Fed's projections on interest rates and their implications for longer-term U.S. economic conditions. The bulk of the Fed's Open Market Committee members believe that rates should stay steady until 2014, but fewer participants expect them to stay low after that. Meanwhile, more hawkish Fed members see rates rising into the 2% to 3% range by the end of 2014, and the consensus has short-term rates eventually rising to 3.5% to 4.5%.

Macroeconomic trends may play a key role in pushing the broad market indexes up and down. But as Apple's results today show, individual companies can thrive in any market -- and similarly, they can suffer even when the overall market is doing well. It's more important than ever to make sure that the stocks you own have positioned themselves to take advantage of current conditions while doing their best to overcome obstacles in their path. In the long run, that will help them stand out from the crowd and hopefully outperform their less nimble peers.

Earnings continue to be the key
If you're not paying attention to earnings reports, you're missing the news that's moving the markets right now. Read The Motley Fool's latest special report to find out about five stocks with key results for this earnings season. But don't wait; accept this free invitation today.

Fool contributor Dan Caplinger doesn't own shares of the companies mentioned. You can follow him on Twitter. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of and creating a bull call spread position on Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Fool has a disclosure policy.


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