Housing and Jobs Data Boosts the Markets

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Positive housing numbers and a reduced weekly first-time unemployment claims number boosted the markets today. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) surged higher by 84 points, or 0.63%, and now sits at 13,596. The S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC  ) also had a winning day, as it rose by 8.31 points, or 0.56%, while the NASDAQ (NASDAQINDEX: ^IXIC  ) added 18 points, or 0.59%. Of the 30 stocks which make up the Dow, only six of them ended the day in the red. Three of the big losers this afternoon were Bank of America (NYSE: BAC  ) , JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM  ) , and Boeing (NYSE: BA  ) , which actually ended the day as one of the Dow's big winners, when shares managed to be up by 1.24% when the closing bell rang. To read about why those stocks were down during the day, simply click here. Or to read about three of today's biggest winners, which were Home Depot (NYSE: HD  ) , Intel (NASDAQ: INTC  ) , and Walt Disney (NYSE: DIS  ) continue reading below.

So why were they higher?
Shares of Home Depot rose by 1.86% today, after the Department of Commerce announced that housing starts increased by 12.1% in the month of December. The annual rate of 954,000 was substantially higher than November's revised number of 851,000 starts. Additionally, the number of construction housing permits issued in December rose to 903,000, the fastest rate increase since July 2008.  Home Depot, as a company, is directly tied to the housing market and, as it improves, the stock will continue to rise.

Intel shareholders had a wild day. At the end of the regular trading session, the stock was up 2.58%, as the bulls drove the price higher before the company announced earnings after the bell. But that's when things went south. Investors found out that the company missed on revenue, and profits had fallen 27% in the most recent quarter.  Shares are down more than 5% in the after-hours trading on this news.

Lastly, shares of Disney ended the day up 1.71%. Very little news was released on the company today, but this has been a good week for the House of the Mouse. Deutsche bank recently reiterated its buy rating, and increased its price target. In addition, AT&T (NYSE: T  ) and Disney inked a content distribution deal , and the company released plans for its own gaming platform, which will be called "Disney Infinity".  

More foolish insight

It's easy to forget that Walt Disney is more than just the House of the Mouse. True, Disney amusement parks around the world hosted more than 121 million guests in 2011. But, from its vast catalog of characters to its monster collection of media networks, much of Disney's allure for investors lies in its diversity, and The Motley Fool's new premium research report lays out the case for investing in Disney today. This report includes the key items investors must watch, as well as the opportunities and threats the company faces going forward. We're also providing a full year of regular analyst updates as news develops, so don't miss out -- simply click here now to claim your copy today.

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