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U.S. stock markets had their best week of 2014, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) was up 2.28% for the week. Janet Yellen testified before Congress for the first time and said that monetary policy would remain consistent under her watch, following in the footsteps of Ben Bernanke's strategy. And a reading of consumer sentiment from the University of Michigan and Thomson Reuters yesterday remained unchanged at 81.2, giving some hope that consumers will continue to fuel economic growth.
Twenty-seven of 30 Dow Jones Industrial Average components were up, so the gains were broad based, but there were some outperformers this week.
Disney (NYSE: DIS ) was up 4.7% and didn't miss a beat yesterday after Comcast announced that it's buying Time Warner Cable. It's not yet known what the impact on Disney will be, but the company is better suited to compete against a larger cable powerhouse than its rivals are. Plus, Disney has been investing in content and technology that will allow customers to cut the cord and still get its content through streaming apps. Content wins in media, and that's true whether the Comcast-Time Warner deal goes through or not.
Travelers was up 3.9% this week with little news driving the stock. The company recently crushed estimates when it reported $2.68 per share in earnings for the fourth quarter, and it seems to be successfully pushing price increases on to customers. Low interest rates make for a challenging investing environment for insurers, but Travelers is weathering the storm well and continues to pump out profits for investors.
Finally, ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM ) was up 3.9% this week, helped by commodity prices. Oil is back over $100 per barrel, and natural gas is now hovering around $5 per million btu, spiking higher than that at times. Big oil companies like ExxonMobil have struggled recently with higher exploration costs for new oil and gas reserves and gas prices that don't rise at the same rate. With commodities on the rise right now, there's some hope that upstream profits will rise, particularly in the gas space, and that's a big reason the stock was up this week.
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