Investors waited for a long time, but they finally got the bounce that they had expected. With positive comments from Chinese leaders that the emerging-market economy might finally start to see renewed growth rather than inflation-fighting tightening, the market got off to a positive start and never looked back. Even though worries about Europe still abound, the Dow Jones Industrials (INDEX: ^DJI) finished up more than 1%, while the Nasdaq Composite (INDEX: ^IXIC) posted a gain of almost 2.5%.

A few Dow stocks posted especially noteworthy rises. Both Boeing (NYSE: BA) and Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT) rose nearly 4%, responding clearly to China's more optimistic prospects. Caterpillar's big losses recently have stemmed from rising pessimism about slowing Chinese growth and its impact on construction and mining, so after a rebound in sentiment, it makes sense to see the stock bounce in sympathy. Boeing is undoubtedly a cyclically sensitive stock as well, but it also benefited from an upgrade from analyst firm Argus this morning.

Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ) also bucked a big past downtrend, rising 2% on the day. The company is set to announce earnings Wednesday, but early indications suggest that the company could announce layoffs of up to 10% of its workforce. With analysts expecting earnings that are more than 25% lower than what it earned a year ago, HP needs to use all the means at its disposal to get its bottom line moving in the right direction again.

A new streak?
It's always good to put a losing streak behind you. But with plenty of uncertainty still on the table, it's hard to predict what the future may bring.

Bullish investors obviously hope that today's rise will begin a lasting upward streak. But regardless of what happens tomorrow, you need to think about the long haul if you expect to reach your financial goals. To find out about the company named The Motley Fool's top stock for 2012 by the Fool's own chief investment officer, read our latest special report. You can get free access to the report to discover the name of this stock, but only if you click on the link above today.