Tech's Gains Push the Dow Near Record Highs

It's another fantastic start to the week for the markets, and the major stock indexes are hitting all the right notes for investors. The Dow Jones Industrial Average has kept up its winning ways, gaining 123 points, or 0.84%, as of 2:20 p.m. EDT. The majority of the blue-chip index's stocks are in the green today, with many surging more than 1%. Earnings season is winding down, but that doesn't mean the markets are quiet. Let's catch up on what you need to know.

IBM, Microsoft on the move
has soared to the top of the Dow today, with shares of the tech giant gaining 2.7% so far. In the absence of noteworthy news on the company, IBM is following the rest of the tech sector upward today. It's a welcome sign for investors, who have dealt with a stock that fell off dramatically after the firm missed on both earnings and revenue earlier in April. Shares had fallen more than 4.5% over the past month before today.

Not to be outdone with tech on the rise, Microsoft shares have risen 2.6% to rank among the top Dow leaders. The company turned heads today by showcasing its "Illumiroom" concept of gaming and entertainment, projecting lights around a user's room in order to improve the experience.

The concept comes as Microsoft gears up for the May 21 launch announcement of its newest Xbox entertainment console. While Illumiroom may not be ready for a full showcase by the announcement date, the feature would give Microsoft a technological leg up on gaming rival Sony in the game and entertainment console market.

Outside of tech, Disney shares have jumped 1.9% after the company's latest Marvel film, Iron Man 3, dominated at the international box office this past weekend. The film, the latest in the Iron Man series, raked in nearly $200 million worldwide, even though its U.S. debut won't come until this Friday. With such a smashing first weekend following up the massively successful prior Iron Man films, Disney investors can expect big sales from Iron Man 3 in the coming weeks.

Finally, McDonald's is also on the rise today, picking up 1.6%. Investors have gotten excited after company CEO Don Thompson, speaking to CNBC today, discussed the possibility of serving McDonald's breakfast-menu items all day, along with customer loyalty schemes, mobile-payment systems, and other ideas. Thompson is looking for new ways to innovate as the company's sales hit a wall and rivals advance on McDonald's leadership atop the industry.

Can Disney still fly higher?
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.

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Fool contributor Dan Carroll has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends McDonald's and Walt Disney. The Motley Fool owns shares of International Business Machines., McDonald's, 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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