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NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- It was the strength in the commodities that was able to propel the markets higher today, Jim Cramer told his Mad Money viewers Thursday. Today's spike in oil prices was even strong enough to embolden money managers to do some buying, Cramer continued, and that led to a much-needed relief rally.
Cramer credited both the Federal Reserve and China for today's 369-point rise in the Dow Jones Industrial Average, saying that comments from the Fed about being pragmatic on interest rates, coupled with a sense that the Chinese may be getting serious about jump-starting their economy, all helped send stocks higher.
But the real winner on the day was the 10% spike in crude oil prices, something that acted as a major stress reliever for those fixed-income traders dealing in nearly $200 billion of oil company bonds.
Not all was rosy in the markets, however. Cramer said there's a growing sense among money managers that a major hedge fund might be about to blow up in the same vein as Long Term Capital in 1998. There was also some profit-taking in the airline stocks, along with unexpected weak earnings from Williams-Sonoma (WSM), which fell 7.7%, along with Tiffany (TIF) and Dollar General (DG).
Most encouraging, however, was that buyers returned once again at the end of the day, Cramer concluded, afraid that they might miss more positive news overnight.
China and the Biotechs
What does turmoil in the Chinese economy have to do with the earnings of biotechs and big pharma? On the surface, nothing. People will still need medications no matter what the economy is doing. But dig a little deeper into the mechanics of the stock market, Cramer said, and things aren't quite that simple.
If the Chinese economy is downshifting, that could lead to a worldwide recession, which would cause a flight to safety, Cramer explained. Investors would sell stocks and buy more bonds.
So while the profits of the biotechs wouldn't change, their stock prices would, as investors sell their risky stocks in favor of bonds or at least stocks with dividend protection. However, even big pharma names with dividends aren't immune. Many investors buy these stocks on margin hoping for quick gains. As the margin calls mount, shares head lower.
Big pharma also has other problems, Cramer continued, currency risk. As money flows out of weak economies into strong ones, like ours, the dollar will strengthen, making foreign profits decline.
Ultimately, that makes neither biotechs nor big pharma safe investments during a recession. There is a silver lining however, and that's when stock prices fall, acquisitions happen -- as they did recently for Receptos (RCPT) and Pharmacyclics (PCYC).
Cramer and the Fed
In the Fed we trust. That was Cramer's take on the market's surprising two-day rally after a tumultuous start to the week.
Last week, Cramer said Fed officials not once, but twice, made what he deemed reckless comments about the need to raise interest rates no matter what the cost to the global markets. That would have a huge impact on the global markets, and could accelerate the turmoil we're already seeing as the rest of the world's economy is far weaker than the U.S.
But yesterday, the New York Fed governor, William Dudley, made comments that were much more thoughtful, restoring trust that the Fed is not operating in a vacuum and is considering what their actions will do to the rest of the world.
Investors can now trust the Fed will make the right moves and know that the grownups are in charge, Cramer concluded. That makes all the difference.
Executive Decision: Cheryl Bachelder
For his "Executive Decision" segment, Cramer once again spoke with Cheryl Bachelder, CEO of Popeye's Louisiana Kitchen (PLKI), the restaurant chain that had the misfortune of reporting earnings in the middle of the market's downturn, but still managed to deliver a 7.5% increase in global same-store sales. Shares of Popeye's are 10 points off their highs.
Bachelder said Popeye's is "killing it in the kitchen," with innovative new products that keep the excitement going. That's why she continues to see Popeye's as a sound, reliable investment for the future.
Popeye's is also the perfect brand for digital and social media, Bachelder explained. Guests love interacting with the brand online. She said the company has strong growth in the Middle East, noting that Popeye's continues to build awareness in the region and is seeing great results thus far.
The only negative Bachelder noted was that of labor costs, which she said are steadily rising. Labor will be a challenge for everyone, Bachelder said.
In the Lightning Round, Cramer was bullish on TJX Companies (TJX), Ulta Salon (ULTA), Vornado Realty Trust (VNO), Federal Realty Investment Trust (FRT), Ventas (VTR), Home Depot (HD), Yahoo! (YHOO) and AMN Healthcare (AHS).
Executive Decision: Dan Rosensweig
In his second "Executive Decision" segment, Cramer sat down with Dan Rosensweig, chairman, president and CEO of Chegg (CHGG), the connected learning provider that helps college students with everything from textbooks to homework and even internships. Shares of Chegg are down since its initial public offering in 2013 as the company continues its transformation into a digital service provider.
Rosensweig explained that while many media outlets proclaimed Chegg missed earnings by 11 cents a share, in reality the company beat earnings by 4 cents a share and raise full-year guidance.
Chegg's earnings were further complicated by the fact that as it transitions away from renting physical textbooks and into more digital services, revenue decrease but gross margins and profits increase.
Rosensweig said he's very excited for the back-to-school season this year and his company is in the middle of its textbook rush. That will be followed by homework and tutoring, then helping students find internships, and after that helping high school students choose and apply for colleges, all of which add up to a diverse, year-long portfolio of services that students love.
Cramer told viewers to do their homework and get the facts on this great company.
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