As well as the stock market has performed lately, Mondays had been a sore point for the average. Until today, the S&P 500 hadn't posted a single winning session on a Monday, and early on, it seemed like the stock market would maintain that streak. But later in the day, stocks recovered ground, and the Dow Jones Industrials (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) finished the day with a gain of 38 points, hitting a new five-year high and covering half the ground toward its all-time closing high of 14,164. The Nasdaq and S&P 500 both rose more strongly.
Within the Dow, strength from the consumer sector overcame challenges on the industrial side of the market. Home Depot (NYSE: HD ) rose to a new all-time high, gaining nearly 2% as investors continue to gravitate toward housing plays. As long as data on home sales and housing prices remains favorable, you can expect investor sentiment for Home Depot to continue to be positive. Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT ) also gained ground, leading the Dow's gainers with a better than 2% rise. An interesting story pointed to its work with newly public solar installer SolarCity to put panels on Wal-Mart and Sam's Club stores in Ohio, but the more likely reason for gains is simply the retailer's exposure to domestic economic forces that push shoppers toward more cost-conscious choices.
Elsewhere, Boyd Gaming (NYSE: BYD ) rose 14% after announcing along with its earnings report that it has completed the sale of its Echelon property on the Las Vegas Strip. The company posted a wider-than-expected loss even after accounting for a one-time charge related to the ill-fated property, but given Boyd's precarious financial situation, having resolved the issue once and for all clearly made investors feel more comfortable about its prospects moving forward.
Finally, mortgage insurer Radian Group (NYSE: RDN ) soared almost 8%. Not only has the company enjoyed favorable trends as home prices have recovered, but it also got upgraded by Keefe Bruyette this morning. With improving conditions suggesting that Radian and its industry peers could survive and thrive going forward, Radian's shares arguably have a lot farther to run, especially now that the company has completed its capital-raising offering of stock and convertible bonds.