Over the past week, investors have experienced a huge amount of anxiety over the state of the European economy. With bond rates in Spain and Italy soaring, many feared that the next dominos in the long sovereign-debt saga might be about to fall. But today, the head of the European Central Bank reassured investors that it was committed to prevent that from happening, saying that "the ECB is ready to do whatever it takes to preserve the euro" as long as it's within its mandate to act. The stock market liked that sentiment, sending the Dow Jones Industrials (INDEX: ^DJI) up more than 195 points just before 10:45 a.m. EDT.

All 30 stocks rose, with several stocks gaining between 2% and 3% on the day. Merck (NYS: MRK) soared about 2.1% after publishing a study that showed some interesting results from drugs attempting to pinpoint and eliminate pockets of hidden HIV virus in patients. With billions in spending on HIV treatment, Merck believes the study could be the first step toward an actual cure for the disease.

American Express (NYS: AXP) also jumped almost 2%. Between its travel-related services and its focus on higher-end card customers, AmEx arguably stands to benefit more than its peers from improvement in the European economy. With its recent efforts to boost its prospects from both established and new business lines, AmEx stands a good chance at continuing to outperform despite a somewhat disappointing earnings report last week.


Finally, Disney (NYS: DIS) rose almost 2.5%. It undoubtedly stands to benefit from a stronger economy in Europe, but even more important was the news that came from Netflix's (NAS: NFLX) earnings report. With Netflix's woes tied to the threat of increasing content costs, the value of Disney's library of timeless classics and new blockbusters seems to be going up and up, boding well for Disney shareholders.

Euro gonna love it
Even though stocks are higher today, you still need to make sure you have the best stocks in your portfolio to weather whatever storms may come. To get some promising names that fit the bill, take a look at The Motley Fool's latest special report, where you'll find three stocks that combine growth and strong dividends in a single package.

The article How Europe Sent the Dow Soaring This Morning originally appeared on Fool.com.

Fool contributor Dan Caplinger doesn't own shares of the companies mentioned. You can follow him on Twitter @DanCaplinger. The Motley Fool owns shares of Disney and Netflix and has created a bear call spread position on American Express. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Walt Disney and Netflix, as well as writing a covered strangle position on American Express. 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 Fool has a disclosure policy.

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