The stock market posted solid gains on Wednesday as the benchmark indexes powered through key levels once again. Investors expect to see some of the headwinds they've had to deal with start to ease in the coming months -- among them, trade tensions and relatively high U.S. benchmark interest rates compared to those in the rest of the developed world. Moreover, good news from some influential stocks improved overall market sentiment. J.C. Penney (NYSE:JCP), Ctrip.com International (NASDAQ:CTRP), and MoneyGram International (NASDAQ:MGI) were among the day's top performers. Here's why their stocks did so well.

Penney for your thoughts

Shares of J.C. Penney picked up another 24%, gaining more ground as investors kept reacting to the long-struggling department store chain's latest efforts to try to attract customers. Penney said on Tuesday that it would launch an in-store shop featuring a new outdoor apparel category using its in-house St. John's Bay brand as well as American Threads and Hi-Tec. Chief Merchant Michelle Wlazlo estimated the addressable market for the outdoor recreation industry at $900 billion, and the retailer believes it can claim its fair share of that business. Penney has worked hard to turn things around, but it'll take time to see if its strategies prove effective.

J.C. Penney logo in red.

Image source: J.C. Penney.

Ctrip gets a vote of confidence

Shares of Chinese online travel specialist Ctrip.com International rose almost 6% after the company earned favorable views from analysts at Morningstar. Ctrip has a lot of capacity to grow, especially as it seeks to expand beyond its home country to serve other major regional markets. Morningstar cited the potential of Korea and Japan as markets for Ctrip, which is also aiming to boost its margins by concentrating on more attractive business segments. The fact that the Chinese travel giant is the market-share leader in one of the largest and fastest-growing travel markets in the world bodes well for it, and investors hope that the favorable trends Ctrip revealed in its latest earnings report will continue.

MoneyGram benefits from partnership

Finally, shares of MoneyGram International gained 8%,  building on Tuesday's move higher. The stock has made solid gains since the company announced on Monday that it would partner with Visa (NYSE:V) on a new debit card deposit service. The new person-to-person money transfer method aims to improve the customer experience in moving money, with pricing starting at $1.99 for the deposit option. MoneyGram has benefited from the inexorable transition away from cash transactions, and shareholders hope that the company will continue to build momentum by working with Visa.