Morning Dow Report: Why Home Depot, Nike, and Visa Brought a Santa Claus Rally Today

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.

Those who believe in Santa Claus rallies saw their holiday wishes come true this morning, with the Dow Jones Industrials rising 60 points as of 11 a.m. EST to continue their string of recent gains. If the gains hold, the Dow would post its sixth-straight record high today. Investors were pleased to see strong preliminary retail results for the season, with published data points to a 2.3% gain in sales between Nov. 1 and Dec. 24 thwarting the popular belief that the year had been the worst since the recession five years ago. Gains for Home Depot , Nike , and Visa emphasized different aspects of retail success as the pre-holiday shopping season came to a close.

For Home Depot, which climbed 1%, continued strength in home prices has helped the home-improvement retailer add to its long run of success, bringing in more customers both among professional contractors and do-it-yourself homeowners. What many people haven't realized, though, is that Home Depot also stands to gain from the rise of mobile technology, as smart home-monitoring systems have become increasingly important growth drivers and could spur a whole new round of home-based tech-infrastructure improvements. From remote-capable thermostats to Wi-Fi doors and locks, Home Depot should benefit as gift-card recipients look to upgrade their homes in the weeks and months ahead.

Nike gained 0.73%, adding to its huge upward move for 2013. Holiday-season results affect the athletic-apparel giant just as much as any other retailer, but the bigger challenges for Nike lie ahead as it prepares for key marketing opportunities in next year's Winter Olympics and World Cup. As important as its home North American market has been to Nike's long-term success, the company has to take full advantage of opportunities to bolster business abroad. Given how much Nike has spent building its brand, investors have high hopes that it can make the most of its time on the international stage in the coming year.

Visa rose 0.35% as it and its credit card network peers benefited from climbing spending during the holiday season. With the rise of online retail, card-network stocks have posted huge gains over the years in light of the resulting growth in electronic spending. Even at brick-and-mortar retailers, initiatives to improve payment technology continue, with Visa working hard to secure its place to provide mobile-based payments and other cutting-edge payment systems. Competition remains fierce, but Visa should benefit as long as consumers keep spending money.

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Fool contributor Dan Caplinger has no position in any stocks mentioned. You can follow him on Twitter @DanCaplinger. The Motley Fool recommends Home Depot, Nike, and Visa. The Motley Fool owns shares of Nike and Visa. 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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