Ukraine Fears Ease as Disney Leads the Dow's 200-Point Rise

After yesterday's market plunge, investors are feeling much more confident about things today. Tensions about Russia and Ukraine's territorial standoff have scaled back on the day, pushing the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) to a gain of more than 214 points as of 2:30 p.m. EST. Every blue-chip stock on the index has gained so far, with entertainment giant Disney (NYSE: DIS  ) leading the way by rising 2.6%. Outside the Dow, it's been a big day for Qualcomm (NASDAQ: QCOM  ) after the semiconductor giant released good news of its own to eager investors. Let's catch up on what you need to know.

Ukraine fears simmer, but it's far from over
RussianPresident Vladimir Putin today called the use of force in the standoff centered on the Crimea region a "last resort," although only time will tell if the situation spirals into the type of conflict that could destabilize Europe's meager economic progress. While it's unlikely, there are reasons to be concerned: As fellow analyst Rich Smith noted, major companies from the energy sector, steel industry, and more have stakes in the Eastern European nation.

Dow leader Disney today, however, appears immune to geopolitics. Its stock pop comes after the company announced it had reacheda new deal with Dish Network (NASDAQ: DISH  ) for streaming Disney's content. Dish conceded to Disney in disabling the ad-skipping feature of its video recorder, and the ability to stream ESPN and other of the company's networks on Dish's network will add to Disney's visibility and reach to customers. Dish's stock also jumped on the news, gaining 0.9% so far.

It's just the latest in what's been a huge rise for Disney's media networks division, its largest business group by revenue. Increasing advertising rates at networks such as ESPN and ABC have helped spur growth in the division, which saw revenue jump 4% year over year in its most recent quarter while operating income jumped by a whopping 20%. While Disney has done a great job finding growth across its impressive portfolio of businesses, it's the media group that offers perhaps the most potential going forward with Disney's reach into the sports market, news, and programming from the likes of its Disney Channel.

Elsewhere on the markets, Qualcomm jumped 3.6% after announcing a 20% increase in its quarterly dividend and a $5 billion addition to its share buyback, designed to spur a sluggish stock over the past year into action. Qualcomm has thrived by making semiconductors for the surging mobile and smartphone markets, but its stock has gained only around 10% over the past year. Still, company leadership sees solid growth ahead for the smartphone market despite its rise, with growth still a huge play in China, in particular.

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