U.S. stock markets have been asleep at the wheel over the last several days. Today broke this period of relative quiet, as the major American indexes rallied quite strongly. There was a variety of news supporting the rally, including favorable announcements overseas as well as some exciting performances on the earnings front. To get the scoop on exactly what drove today's rally, watch analyst Andrew Tonner in the video below.

Although the news from Angela Merkel today should be viewed favorably, the markets are still fraught with risk. Stocks that should perform best in this environment offer plenty of downside protection while sporting reasonable potential, as well. If you're looking for some long-term investing ideas, the Fool's new research report, "The 3 Dow Stocks Dividend Investors Need," certainly fits the bill. It's absolutely free, so just click here and get your copy today.