All 10 sectors posted gains in the stock market today, even as U.S. first-quarter GDP numbers showed a contraction in the economy. Wall Street shrugged off the 1% year-over-year GDP slump -- lower than the most pessimistic Econoday consensus estimates of a 0.8% decline -- as a result of poor winter weather, bidding stocks higher across the board. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) posted its fifth day of gains in the last six days, tacking on 65 points, or 0.4%, to end at 16,698.
Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS) finished as one of the 25 stocks in the Dow that gained ground on Thursday, adding 0.5%. Still riding high from the global $1 billion-plus box office blowout success that was Frozen, and with Marvel Studios, Lucasfilm, ESPN, and a slew of other elite media properties to its name, Disney is truly a one-of-a-kind giant of the entertainment world. CEO Bob Iger's 2009 acquisition of Marvel for $4 billion was an extremely shrewd investment, as the popularity of Marvel Universe-related movies has proven that, if being obsessed with comic book characters is nerdy, the world is chock-full of fanatical geeks.
Disney isn't the only company betting that Marvel has discovered the magic formula to monetizing the recent comic book craze. Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) has worked closely with Disney for a number of years, and enjoys the exclusive rights to stream at least four brand spankin' new series starting next year, 13 episodes each, based on Marvel characters. Netflix shares, which have rewarded long-term investors with explosive returns, rallied 3.5% today as CEO Reed Hastings blasted opponents of net neutrality, arguing for a "free and open Internet," where all traffic is treated equally by Internet service providers.
Elsewhere in the services sector, Sears Holdings (OTC:SHLDQ) finished as a major gainer in the stock market today, as shares surged 7.6%. Unfortunately, one-day swings don't tell us much about a stock's long-term potential, especially when those swings are virtually unfounded -- like today's rally in Sears. While one can make the case that Sears stock has been unfairly beaten down in recent years, there simply is no end in sight to the company's slumping sales and asset divestitures. Until the department store starts to stem the bleeding, Sears stock will remain a roll of the dice I'd rather not take.