Apple Fuels Nasdaq, Women Fuel Harley

A 9% rally in Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) shares on stronger-than-expected quarterly earnings sent the tech-heavy Nasdaq up more than 2% yesterday, marking its best day of the year.

The Dow and the S&P 500 also rallied, despite news that orders for long-lasting, expensive items called durable goods dropped dramatically last month.

Futures this Thursday morning are signaling a small pullback.

Harley-Davidson (NYSE:HOG) is marketing to women, and it's working. The motorcycle maker grew its sales 20% last quarter to $1.27 billion and Harley shares revved 6% to their highest price in nearly five years yesterday.

The company is targeting women with bikes designed specifically for them -- think low-slung machines, special seats, handle bars and foot gearshifts. Harley-Davidson said that two-thirds of women who bought big bikes in the U.S. last year bought Harleys.

Burger King is the first major fast-food chain to pledge that all its chickens and pigs are raised cage free by the year 2017. BK's decision raises the bar for other companies seeking the approval of consumers -- and willing to deal with the higher production costs that come with more humane animal treatment.

Smithfield Foods (NYSE:SFD), Hormel (NYSE:HRL), Unilever (NYSE:UL), Sonic, Subway, Ruby Tuesday, Kraft (NYSE:KFT)), ConAgra (NYSE:CAG), Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) and Costco (NASDAQ:COST), among others, are working to support more animal-friendly production.

Studies have shown that shoppers are willing to pay more for products they believe are produced to higher standards.  It's estimated that the better treatment of chickens raises prices by about a penny per egg.