Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over daily movements, we do like to keep an eye on market changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

A fundamental part of figuring out where to put your money is to first understand the risk and reward of a given investment. There are plenty of risks staring down today's market: the Syrian conflict, rising oil prices, rising interest rates brought on by Fed tapering, heady stock valuations, high unemployment -- the list goes on and on. But the potential reward of investing in today's market was manifest Thursday, as revised GDP numbers showed suddenly accelerating growth.

The economy grew at a 2.5% annual rate in the second quarter, more than twice the 1.1% pace seen in the first quarter. The sudden growth spurt sent the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI) up 16 points, or 0.1%, ending at 14,840.

Verizon Communications (NYSE: VZ) played an important role in the Dow's advance today in its own right, jumping 2.7%. Vodafone, which owns 45% of the phone carrier Verizon Wireless, confirmed that the two companies are in talks, and speculation is swirling that a deal could possibly be completed in the next week. It's rare that shares in both the acquirer and the acquiree rise on rumors like this, but Verizon's been trying to buy back the massive stake in its lucrative wireless business for some time now, and investors are clearly giddy with the prospect. 

Boeing (NYSE: BA), which holds more than twice the sway that Verizon does in the price-weighted Dow, rose 1.6% Thursday upon releasing its latest tally of net airplane orders this year. The aerospace giant has logged 786 orders for commercial planes thus far this year, a 13.6% jump from the company's figures early last month. Not bad, considering Boeing's spent much of the year battling PR headwinds.

On the losing end, Alcoa (NYSE: AA) shares dipped, losing 1.5% today. As of Tuesday, Alcoa was far and away the single most hated stock in the Dow, with nearly 10% of its outstanding shares being shorted. With industrial buyers of aluminum in Japan reluctant to pay the premium requested by top producers, according to a Reuters report, a bullish catalyst for this stock hasn't reared its head in a while.

Lastly, Exxon (NYSE: XOM) ended as the Dow's worst performer, shedding 1.8%. The oil and gas sector, as a whole, was a loser today, retreating by more than 1% as the price of oil fell. A potential strike by Western powers is looking less imminent than it did just yesterday, as the U.K. parliament shot down a proposal to allow military strikes in Syria. The threat of a strike had been driving up global oil prices, and energy companies rallied yesterday on the increase.

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Fool contributor John Divine has no position in any stocks mentioned. You can follow him on Twitter @divinebizkid and on Motley Fool CAPS @TMFDivine.

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