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After knocking on the door for two straight sessions, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) finally closed above the 15,000 mark, gaining 87 points, or 0.6%. A German industrial report gave the Dow a thrust this morning, as manufacturing orders in Europe's biggest economy grew 2.2% in March, instead of falling 0.5% as expected. The German DAX index finished up 0.9%.
After hours today, Disney (NYSE: DIS ) reported a 32% increase in net income on strong gains in parks revenue as new features such as Cars Land helped grow profits in the category by 73%. Oz: The Great and Powerful was also a winner for Disney's film unit during the quarter. Adjusted EPS jumped to $0.79, ahead of estimates of $0.76, while revenue of $10.6 billion also edged out the experts' view. Despite the strong results, shares were down 1.3% after hours following a 1.6% gain during the trading session, perhaps a consequence of Disney's strong run this year, as shares have already gained 30% this year and hit an all-time high in the process.
Elsewhere on the Dow, Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT ) was the blue chips' biggest gainer as shares jumped 2.5%, seemingly on an interest rate cut by the Australian central bank. The rate cut could help spur capital investment in the Land Down Under, a mining-rich nation and a key market for Caterpillar.
Among the Dow losers today was Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT ) , which fell 1.3% after admitting mistakes with its new Windows 8 software and saying it would make changes to "key aspects" of the operating system by the end of the year. Sales of the new operating system had been slower than expected, and some computer buyers have even been requesting Windows 7 on their new purchases instead of Windows 8. While the market is jeering Microsoft today, admitting failure isn't necessarily a bad thing, and the revamped operating system could give the tech giant another round of sales increases once the new version is released.
Outside the Dow, Whole Foods (NASDAQ: WFM ) shares were flying higher, as the high-end grocery chain was up 8.2% after hours following its earnings release. The foodie favorite said earnings per share jumped to $0.76 from $0.64 a year ago and beat estimates of $0.73. Same-store sales growth was strong at 6.9%, and the company boosted its full-year earnings forecast slightly to $2.86-$2.89. Whole Foods also said it would enact a 2-for-1 stock split in the end of May.
It's easy to forget that Walt Disney is more than just the House of 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 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. So don't miss out -- simply click here now to claim your copy today.