Why the Dow Soared Today

What a difference a week can make.

Coming out of last week, which marked the worst week of 2012 for the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI) , U.S. stock markets registered back-to-back days of consecutive gains to open this week, capped by an especially strong performance today. The Dow popped 194 points for a 1.5% gain on the day. In similarly bullish fashion, both the Nasdaq and S&P 500 also surged higher, ending the day up 1.6% and 1.8%, respectively. Investors showed signs of calming about the market's recent turmoil. The market's "fear gauge," the VIX (INDEX: ^VIX) , fell today by 5.9% after spiking severely during last week's trading days. It seems investors are starting to find their cool and regain their faith in the slow-moving recovery still under way.

Around the markets
Investors had plenty of news to digest today, with several blue-chip companies reporting quarterly earnings. Among Dow components, Coca-Cola gained 2.1% and touched its highest levels in nearly 14 years after it been analysts' revenue and profit expectations. Tech stalwart IBM (NYS: IBM) increased its Q1 earnings by 7.1% and also raised its full-year profit guidance to $15 a share, versus analyst forecasts of $14.94. Big Blue jumped 2.3% during today's trading. On a gloomier note, semiconductor stud Intel's (NAS: INTC) profit declined 13% on essentially flat revenue. The introduction of a new production process drove the margin erosion. Investors frowned on the report, though, driving down Intel shares after hours by nearly 3%.

One of the day's most exciting news events took place outside the Dow. Cheniere Energy (NYS: LNG) traded 3.6% higher today on news that the federal government approved the company to construct a natural gas export facility in Louisiana. With nat gas prices in the U.S. trading at long-term lows, natural gas companies hope to capitalize on higher prices abroad, a move that would be a boon for companies operating in the industry.

With commodity prices, especially for some energy inputs, soaring, investors need to know the smartest ways to play the sector. The Fool recently compiled a research report detailing one big-time opportunity for energy investors. Better yet, we made it absolutely free for our readers, so access your copy today.

At the time thisarticle was published Andrew Tonnerholds no financial position in any of the companies mentioned in this article. You can follow Andrew and all his Foolish writing on Twitter at@AndrewTonner. The Motley Fool owns shares of Intel and IBM.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of Intel. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insightsmakes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days.

Copyright © 1995 - 2012 The Motley Fool, LLC. All rights reserved. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.