Walmart earnings were a pleasant surprise to investors Tuesday morning, as it beat expectations on revenue growth and posted strong online sales numbers in the first quarter to fully include its acquisition of e-retailer Investors bid up the price of Walmart stock close to 4% in early trading, helping the Dow Jones rise roughly 125 points, before paring back some of those gains.

Why it matters: Overall stock prices relative to earnings have been rising steadily of late, raising the question of just how much higher the stock market can go. Walmart has avoided the slump in same-store sales growth that has plagued the bricks and mortar retail sector of late, but investors are bidding up Walmart on the hopes of higher earnings rather than actual results, as estimated earnings per share in 2017 will come in two cents below 2016 performance.

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Data:; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon / Axios

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