The stock market continued its recent ascent on Friday morning, buoyed by overall optimism about the prospects for the U.S. economy. The holidays often bring a rally in stocks, and this year's version comes as a stark contrast to last year's December plunge. As of 11:30 a.m. EST, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) was up 118 points to 28,495. The S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) gained 18 points to 3,223, and the Nasdaq Composite (NASDAQINDEX:^IXIC) picked up 34 points to 8,921.

Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) has seen huge gains lately, and although its shares didn't react all that strongly today, good news from across the Pacific could help lift the automaker's prospects for the long run. Meanwhile, Nike (NYSE:NKE) delivered earnings results that didn't entirely satisfy investors, but the stock has been red-hot in 2019, and many have high hopes for the athletic footwear and apparel specialist in 2020 as well.

China helps Tesla

Shares of Tesla were little changed on Friday morning as the electric car pioneer got some good news from China. Although many of those watching Tesla have worried about a slowdown in the Chinese auto market, Tesla's latest numbers suggest that it's bucking the trend that has affected some other car stocks lately.

Dark-colored sedan on a road, with rolling landscape behind.

Image source: Tesla.

Tesla reported that registrations of new vehicles in China climbed to nearly 5,600 in November. That was its highest reading since June, and it compared with less than 400 vehicles registered in November 2018.

The Chinese market has a lot of appeal for Tesla, but it also brings potential challenges. Trade concerns had dampened excitement about the company's chances of success in China, especially if new tariffs had taken effect to hurt imports. Tesla is getting ready to start making vehicle deliveries from its Shanghai-based factory, but even so, the size of China's car market is so huge that it'll take a lot of effort to handle demand and make Tesla vehicles more affordable.

China isn't the only reason why Tesla's stock has soared lately, but it's an important part of the equation for the company. A lot will ride on whether China turns out to be as lucrative for Tesla as investors hope, especially with the share price at record levels.

Nike hits the wall

Shares of Nike fell 2% despite what most people considered to be a strong fiscal first-quarter financial report. The athletic footwear giant has seen its stock climb precipitously in 2019, so some pullback wasn't surprising even with the positive results.

Nike saw strong gains in its fundamental business. Revenue climbed 10% in the quarter, helping to lift net income by 32% year over year. Footwear sales were especially robust, rising 12%, while apparel and equipment saw smaller gains in the mid- to high-single-digit percentages compared to year-ago levels.

Growth rates across the globe were encouraging. China saw a 20% jump in Nike sales, and the company had double-digit percentage gains from the segments covering greater Europe, Latin America, and the Asia-Pacific regions. Stock buybacks also helped to improve per-share earnings figures at an even greater rate.

There was little in the report to disappoint investors, suggesting that the downturn in the stock was just a brief blip. If things keep going this well for the athletic giant, then Nike could see more gains in 2020.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.