As has happened so much recently, the stock market answered yesterday's worries with renewed strength today. Investors seem willing to set aside lingering doubts that the resolution to the banking crisis in Cyprus could have greater consequences in larger economies in the eurozone, particularly Italy and Spain. Instead, strength in the U.S. economy sent stocks moving higher, with durable-goods orders posting a 5.7% advance in February on the strength of transportation-related orders. Moreover, housing prices measured by the Case-Shiller Index rose a whopping 8.1% year over year in January -- its best annual rise in nearly seven years -- and even a larger-than-expected drop in new-home sales wasn't enough to squelch investor enthusiasm. By 11 a.m. EDT, the Dow Jones Industrials were up 95 points, trading near their recently set record highs.
The big gainer in the Dow is Boeing , which rose more than 2% after successfully completing a test flight of its 787 Dreamliner aircraft. With the Dreamliner having been grounded since mid-January due to safety concerns regarding its lithium batteries, Boeing investors have worried about the potential impact on customers. But if the redesigning of the aircraft's battery components eliminates overheating issues that can increase the risk of fire, then the plane's better fuel economy should keep the Dreamliner looking attractive to airlines.
Elsewhere, RF Micro Devices jumped almost 8% as analyst firm Oppenheimer upgraded the stock. The company makes radio-frequency components that help smartphones communicate via wireless networks, successfully avoiding the trap that many of its peers have fallen into of concentrating too much on a single customer. With Samsung using more of the company's products in its latest Galaxy smartphone model, RF Micro seems poised to continue benefiting from the mobile revolution.
Finally, storage giants Western Digital and Seagate have notched sizable gains of about 4.5% this morning. Both companies have been working hard to figure out the next step beyond their legacy hard-disk drive businesses, as the rise of solid-state drives and flash memory has threatened to make their business models obsolete. Yet for now, the huge rise in information volume leaves the door open for their products to serve vital roles in overall big-data solutions, especially because not all data is so time-critical as to need the speed advantage that solid-state technology has over hard drives. Western Digital's strategic investment in Skyera earlier this month signals its latest move to advance in the industry, and Seagate should also continue moving forward with its own growth initiatives.
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