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The Dow Jones today gained 225 points. What fueled the surge? Strong earnings reports from a number of Blue Chip companies and an upswing in oil prices. Brent crude oil for March closed up 1.4% to $49.13.
Dow: 17,416.85, +225.88, +1.31%
S&P 500: 2,021.25, +19.09, +0.95%
Nasdaq: 4,683.41, +45.41, +0.98%
The S&P 500 Volatility Index (VIX), the market's fear gauge, slipped more than 8% on the day.
What Moved the Markets Today: The good news started today before trading opened. Job cuts slipped to 15-year lows last week, a positive sign for the U.S. employment situation. Only 265,000 Americans filed for unemployment compensation last week, according to the U.S. Labor Department.
Now, check out the other top market stories – plus get today's new profit tip for investors:
- A Huge Exit:Shares of McDonald's Corp. (NYSE: MCD) jumped more than 5% on news the company's CEO, Don Thompson, will step down on March 1. Thompson's resignation comes at a time when McDonald's has seen its sales fall in both the United States and around the globe. The company's chief brand officer and senior executive vice president Steve Easterbrook will replace him. MCD stock ticked up nearly 3% this morning on the news.
- Chinese Slump: Shares of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. (NYSE: BABA) plummeted more than 8% after the Chinese e-commerce giant reported weaker than expected quarterly revenue. The news shattered Yahoo! Inc. (Nasdaq: YHOO). Now that Alibaba stock has slid more than 27% from its 52-week high, concerns are emerging that analysts could downgrade the stock. All 22 analysts currently have a "Buy" rating on the stock. But today's dip represents a great buying opportunity for BABA stock. In fact, Money Morning's Chief Investment Strategist Keith Fitz-Gerald says long-term investors would be "foolish" to not take this chance to add to their positions…
- Chip Troubles: Shares of Qualcomm Inc. (Nasdaq: QCOM) slipped more than 10% on news that the chipmaker has slashed its 2015 outlook. The company also rattled investors with a warning that the company's newest chip will not be in the Samsung Electronics Ltd. (OTCMKTS: SSNLF) Galaxy S6 smartphone.
- Cutting Costs: Falling oil prices caused another round of capital expenditure cuts from major production companies. ConocoPhillips (NYSE: COP) and Occidental Petroleum Corp. (NYSE: OXY) both announced cuts to exploration spending for 2015. Brent prices gained 1.4% today to hit $49.13 per barrel. West Texas Intermediate prices were flat, hovering beneath $45 per barrel.
- An Apple a Day: Shares of Apple stock jumped another 3% today as investors remain bullish on the stock after its quarterly earnings report from this week. Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) smashed Wall Street expectations with record sales of iPhones in the holiday shopping season. This fueled the largest quarterly profits in company history. If you missed out on Apple's stock pop, there's another way to make some money today thanks to the huge potential of Apple Pay and the mobile payments revolution. Money Morning Tech Expert Michael A. Robinson recently shared a terrific profit play on one chipmaker poised for huge growth thanks to its alignment with the industry's top player…