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Another day of trading, another five-year high. Earnings sparked much of today's rise to be sure, but Washington also played an important role. The House of Representatives gave markets a boost as well, passing a measure to temporarily suspend the debt ceiling until May 19. Even though only 12 of its 30 components advanced, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) ended up gaining 67 points, or 0.49%, to close at 13,779.
The major factor behind the run today was an impressive quarter from IBM (NYSE: IBM ) , which in the price-weighted index is by far the most influential component. Comprising nearly 11% of the index, Wednesday's monster 4.4% surge drove blue-chip gains. Not only did Big Blue beat estimates for the quarter on strong emerging markets performance and cloud-based success, but it raised expectations for the current year.
Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ ) , which has the third-lowest weighting in the Dow at just under 1%, was also its biggest decliner today, dropping 1.4%. The drop wasn't exactly characteristic of the stock's 2013 performance. Up more than 19% in January, it's by far the Dow's top performer. Alas, "past performance is no guarantee of future results," and today's decline may very well have been due to profit taking, pure and simple. That, and the fact that the PC market is dying slowly.
Elsewhere in technology, shares of LED lighting producer Cree (NASDAQ: CREE ) jumped an incredible 22% Wednesday, beating revenue expectations and issuing great guidance. Suffering a precipitous fall after highs above $80 in 2010, the stock is up more than 50% in the past year. To give you an idea of how good results were, at least eight different financial institutions raised their price target on Cree's stock today alone. Not bad.
Shares in online video streaming network Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX ) went absolutely bonkers after hours, gaining as much as 33% in the postmarket after posting 5.6% gains today ahead of quarterly results. Obviously, the results were a blowout; subscriber gains drove the company to fourth-quarter profits when Wall Street expected losses. Not only that, but Netflix forecast over $1 billion in sales for its first quarter, exceeding what some analysts had expected would be revenue of $970 million.