Consumer Spending Fueled the Stock Market Today

Normally, 0.2% growth in consumer spending wouldn't excite anyone, but when the Department of Commerce released its growth number for March, the slow growth still topped the expectation of 0.1% from economists. That drove the stock market today: The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.67%, and the S&P 500 jumped 0.7%.

Microsoftshares jumped 2.1% today, continuing their hot streak. The company released new networking tools for its Azure platform and showed off its new IllumiRoom concept, a projector technology envisioned for the next-generation Xbox. The concept was first unveiled at CES earlier this year, but the company is showing it off at the CHI 2013 conference in Paris this week. The concept could be used for a high-end console on its own or as an add-on similar to the Kinect for Xbox 360. At least Microsoft is trying to up its game in consoles, a business that's in dire need of some serious innovation.

Disney bounced another 1.7% higher today following a huge weekend for Iron Man 3. The film won't open in the U.S. until Friday, but the international box office last weekend reached $195.3 million, giving investors hope that it could be even bigger than The Avengers was last year. The box office is only the first profit center for Disney, and the incredible success of both The Avengers and Iron Man will make its way to toys, amusement parks, cruise ships, television shows, and many other mediums, so the bigger the box office, the longer Disney will profit from it. Marvel is paying off in spades for Disney, helping to make this stock is one of the hottest on the Dow.

It's easy to forget that Walt Disney is more than just the House of Mouse. True, Disney amusement parks around the world hosted more than 121 million guests in 2011. But from its vast catalog of characters to its monster collection of media networks, much of Disney's allure for investors lies in its diversity, and The Motley Fool's premium research report lays out the case for investing in Disney today. This report includes the key items investors must watch, as well as the opportunities and threats the company faces going forward. So don't miss out -- simply click here now to claim your copy today.

Verizon is one of only a few Dow stocks in the red today as investors become skittish about the price Vodafone is asking for its stake in Verizon Wireless. UBS is the latest to weigh in on a potential buyout, saying Verizon would likely have to pay between $130 billion and $137 billion to acquire the rest of Verizon Wireless. Vodafone can say no to any offer Verizon makes, so this isn't the strongest of negotiating positions, and I think people will be surprised what Verizon would eventually have to give up to please Vodafone.

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Fool contributor Travis Hoium manages an account that owns shares of Microsoft. The Motley Fool recommends Walt Disney. The Motley Fool owns shares of Microsoft and Walt Disney. 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.

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