Up, up and away. The markets and exchange traded funds (ETFs) are soaring higher after market-beating results from JP Morgan (NYSE: JPM), Intel (NASDAQ: INTC) and upbeat testimony from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.

Whether they were dining out or picking up some new spring clothes, Americans spent more money in March, driving retail sales for the month up 1.6%. The bulk of the growth, surprisingly, came from auto sales. Either way, the numbers are worth rejoicing over because economists had expected a 1.2% increase.

The breakdown is interesting: building material sales rose 1.3%, clothing sales increased 2.3% and car sales rose a whopping 6.8%. Vanguard Consumer Discretionary (NYSEArca: VCR) could give you exposure to all three areas and then some: clothing at Target (NYSE: TGT), building materials at Home Depot (NYSE: HD), car sales via Ford (NYSE: F). [ETF Strategies for the Retail Rebound.]

Reports of the semiconductor industry’s death have been greatly exaggerated. Intel (NASDAQ: INTC) had its best quarter ever in the first three months of this year. How good was it? Revenues were up 44% from last year and earnings per share were up 288%. The chipmaker’s operating income was up 433% year over year. iShares S&P North America Tech-Semiconductor (NYSEArca: IGW) is up more than 3% this morning on the news; Intel is 8.3% of the fund. [3 ETFs to Watch This Earnings Season.]

It’s hard to follow up numbers like that, but JPMorgan (NYSE: JPM) rolled in this morning with decent results of its own. The bank’s earnings were up $2.1 billion from a year earlier, thanks to moves to offset lending weakness. JPMorgan is the first of the big banks to report earnings. The numbers could turn up the heat on the financial industry, which is facing tighter regulations. Financial Select Sector SPDR (NYSEArca: XLF) is up nearly 2% this morning. [6 ETFs for a Financial Sector Recovery.]

Bernanke delivered a mixed message this morning in Congress. On the one hand, he’s confident that the recovery has staying power. On the other, it’s not quite strong enough to quickly alleviate the dire unemployment situation. He also urged lawmakers to deal with the budget deficits; if they linger, they’ll continue to threaten the country’s long-term economic health.

The opinions and forecasts expressed herein are solely those of Tom Lydon, and may not actually come to pass. Information on this site should not be used or construed as an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to buy, or a recommendation for any product.