Until Thursday, it had been a terrible week for investors looking to end the year on a positive note. However, major market benchmarks finally got into the holiday spirit, sending the Nasdaq Composite (^IXIC 0.63%) soaring more than 2.5%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI 0.62%) and S&P 500 (^GSPC 0.55%) also enjoyed solid gains on the day.

Index

Daily Percentage Change

Daily Point Change

Dow

+1.05%

+345

S&P 500

+1.75%

+66

Nasdaq

+2.59%

+265

Data source: Yahoo! Finance.

You can tell that investors were in a good mood when even companies that have suffered bad news recently were able to see their share prices bounce. Southwest Airlines (LUV 2.08%) is arguably having the worst week in its history, but its stock climbed 3% as investors seemed to see light at the end of a dark tunnel of getting its fleet and crews back into alignment. Meanwhile, Beyond Meat (BYND 1.17%) did even better as the plant-based meat-alternative specialist got another vote of confidence from a key partner.

Southwest gets back in the air

Southwest's stock got its boost after it revealed the progress it has made trying to recover from recent storms. The airline's latest update suggests that flights could finally return to normal by  Friday.

Southwest had to cancel the majority of its flights earlier in the week, and the disrupted schedule continued on Thursday. The beleaguered airline once again operated only about a third of its schedule today, as it scurried to get crews and aircraft in the right places and under viable schedules. Yet it said that would change tomorrow, as it plans to have only minimal disruptions to Friday's schedule.

In addition, Southwest has set up a website that customers can use in order to submit their requests for refunds and reimbursement of meals, hotel expenses, and alternate transportation resulting from the situation. Those who still haven't located their baggage should be able to use the Southwest website to track and eventually receive it.

Even with the efforts, Southwest is certain to face more criticism of how it handled its operations, including ongoing looks from federal agencies. Nevertheless, Southwest shareholders were just happy to see the initial problems coming to an end.

Beyond Meat looks to the Golden Arches, again

Shares of Beyond Meat did even better, rising 9% on Thursday. The plant-based meat-alternative specialist got a boost from an announcement of a new product at a key partner.

McDonald's (MCD -0.35%) announced that it would expand its lineup of plant-based offerings in the United Kingdom and Ireland with the new Double McPlant. Starting on Jan. 4, customers at McDonald's U.K. and Ireland locations will be able to get the plant-based burger, which features two Beyond Meat patties instead of the one that came with the original McPlant burger.

McPlant launched in September 2021, and at least on the British Isles, it appears to have received a highly favorable reception from customers. The McDonald's press release pitched the new product as responding to demand from those who had taken to social media asking for a larger version of the plant-based burger. The price will start at 4.89 British pounds, or about $5.89 at recent exchange rates.

Even with the gains, though, Beyond Meat shares remain down more than 80% in 2022. Unless widespread adoption goes well beyond one corner of a fast-food giant's global footprint, investors need to keep their expectations about Beyond Meat realistic.