Why the Dow Rocketed 227 Points Higher Today

It's funny how quickly talking points come and go on Wall Street. Just yesterday, global stock markets plunged as Russia amassed combat troops in a symbolic effort to threaten further aggression against Ukraine. But with Russian President Vladimir Putin ordering those same troops to go back home earlier today, Putin revealed his bluff -- and to the jovial pleasure of investors across the globe. Will geopolitical concerns about Ukraine be a distant memory to markets in just a few months' time? I hope so, for everyone's sake. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) has already moved on, roaring 227 points higher today, with the 1.4% gain sending the index to 16,395. 

The Dow couldn't have advanced quite so rapidly on Tuesday if it weren't for Walt Disney (NYSE: DIS  ) stock, which tacked on 2.8%, nearly finishing as the day's best blue chip performer. Disney's outperformance was driven by its unprecedented, brand-spankin'-new agreement with DISH Network, announced last night. The multi-year deal (specific terms weren't disclosed) gives DISH the right to stream content from Disney-owned stations like ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, and of course, the Disney Channel. I applaud both companies for the bold strategy, but Disney especially, because the company began recognizing the looming demise of cable years ago, and continues to adjust distribution deals accordingly. It's official: welcome to the age of streaming!

If J.C. Penney (NYSE: JCP  ) was a person rather than a company, I'd sure hate to be his physician. Less than a month ago, he appeared to be dying of lupus, a poor fellow living on the streets, disheveled and ignored. Now he's practically the Great Gatsby, gallivanting around town with anyone he chooses. J.C. Penney stock continued its unapologetic upswing today, gaining 4.2%; the stock is now nearly 50% higher than it was just last Wednesday. And what's not to be excited about? Margins and sales are increasing, it started promoting its spring 2014 collection during the Oscars, and S&P upgraded its debt yesterday. Remember: He had lupus just a week ago, old sport!

(Also before you start sending me hate mail, I am aware that J.C. Penney was actually a person. Pardon my phrasing.) 

Finally, Delta Air Lines (NYSE: DAL  ) shares also stood out in the stock market today, soaring 5.7% and briefly hitting an all-time high. Delta is one of those companies that likes to brag about its performance each month, and it so happens that last month's performance was almost impossible to find fault with. Despite thousands of flight cancellations due to weather patterns with names like Leon, Delta's passenger revenue per available seat mile, an important statistic in the industry, rose by 4% from February 2013. Moving forward, Delta's fuel price is expected to come in about 8% lower than last year's in March, which should beef up the bottom line. 

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