While stocks wavered during trading yesterday after minutes from the June Fed meeting were released, Thursday was a different story altogether. The Big Cheese himself, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, spoke Wednesday evening about the central bank's quantitative easing strategy going forward, and he made it quite clear that the money-printing wasn't going to stop any time soon. Wall Street subsequently roared back to life, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) gained 169 points, or 1.1%, to close at 15,460, an all-time closing record.
Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) added 3.2%, a day after what might appear to be crushing news for the chip maker hit the streets. Reports from research firms Gartner and IDC both showed PC sales trending about 11% lower in the second quarter, which makes for a fifth straight quarterly decline. However, the market has mostly seen this trend coming, and the recent data actually showed a slowdown in the decline from the first quarter's 14% tumble in shipments.
While Intel may have been the Dow's top gainer today, Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) made the biggest news. The $300-billion company is imposing broad changes to the way it fundamentally runs its business; instead of different divisions being isolated from one another and managed separately, managers with a certain expertise will oversee and contribute across product platforms. Microsoft has long been criticized for destructive competition and a lack of communication within its own flanks; the shakeup sent the stock up 2.8% today.
Media and entertainment giant Disney (NYSE:DIS) ended 2.6% higher Thursday after a bullish research note from JPMorgan. Some have feared that Disney, which boasts enviable power assets ranging from the sports network ESPN to the rights to the Star Wars franchise, would be hurt by the monumental flop of its newest movie, The Lone Ranger. JPMorgan dismissed these fears as fleeting, and reiterated its $75 price target for the stock.
Lastly, aluminum giant Alcoa (NYSE:AA) saw shares gain 2.3% as the materials sector soared higher today. Not only did Alcoa start the earnings season off on Monday with better-than-expected results, but Bernanke's comments yesterday sparked demand in the metals market. With the dollar weakening on news of continuing easing efforts, metals prices rose as investors put their money elsewhere. Not a single stock in the Dow ended the day in the red.