Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over daily movements, we do like to keep an eye on market changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.
The stock market's most recent run higher continued today, as further evidence supporting a possible acceleration of growth in the Chinese economy helped give investors a rosier view of the prospects for U.S. stocks as well. Diplomatic initiatives to try to resolve the Syrian crisis also helped push stocks higher, with investors discounting the probability of military conflict that could present new geopolitical challenges for the financial markets. The Dow Jones Industrials (DJINDICES:^DJI) closed the day with a gain of 127 points, while the broader markets made slightly smaller moves upward of 0.7% for the S&P and 0.6% for the Nasdaq.
Three stocks in the Dow posted gains of 2% or more. Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) led the way higher with a 2.3% rise, as speculation swirled about the details of a potential updated line of Surface tablets to be unveiled on September 23. Yet another reason for the gains might have come on reports that the company will replace outgoing CEO Steve Ballmer with a turnaround specialist, with names like Ford's Alan Mulally and Mike Lawrie of Computer Sciences being mentioned. Microsoft is a massive operation for an outsider to come to grips with, but it also arguably has huge potential if a turnaround is successful, and investors apparently think well of the effort.
General Electric (NYSE:GE) jumped 2.1% despite some mixed performance in its key industries today. Industrial stocks generally got help from good news from China, and GE's mining-equipment business could eventually prosper from a recovery there. Yet the calming of Syrian tensions led to a big drop in oil and gold prices today, hurting not only the mining industry but also the energy sector. Energy has become increasingly important to GE, so ensuring strong pricing will be helpful in driving demand for its products.
Finally, Disney (NYSE:DIS) managed to put in a 2% rise. The return of Monday Night Football helped its ESPN franchise, raising excitement about its media properties. Yet the company also said it would delay the release of the fifth installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean series, which had been planned for mid-2015. An updated release date was not provided, suggesting the possibility that Disney might be using more caution in evaluating its offerings in light of the high-profile flop of The Lone Ranger, which, like Pirates of the Caribbean, also starred Johnny Depp.
Fool contributor Dan Caplinger has no position in any stocks mentioned. You can follow him on Twitter @DanCaplinger. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Walt Disney. It also owns shares of General Electric and Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.