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The S&P 500 (INDEX: ^GSPC ) ended its five-day slide in a big way today, up 13.83 points (0.96%), to 1447.15; and, for once, it has Spain to thank. The impetus for today’s rally was the release of Spain’s 2013 federal budget, which calls for more stringent cuts than European regulators, who arranged financing for the country’s struggling banks, had originally asked for. However, it remains to be seen if what’s been placed on paper can actually be implemented, given the EU nation's high unemployment rate of 24.7%.
Let’s take a look at some of the stocks helping boost the S&P 500 today.
Solar panel manufacturer First Solar (Nasdaq: FSLR ) brightened its outlook today, and rose better than 10%, by announcing that it had won a contract from PNM Resources to build four solar power plants in New Mexico, with 20 MW of generating capacity. The bigger news -- though still a rumor -- is that the United States’ leading alternative energy producer, NetxEra Energy (NYSE: NEE ) , is looking to build a 1 GW solar farm in Southern California and, according to Bloomberg, First Solar may be in line for a good portion -- if not all -- of the contract. According to Foolish solar guru Travis Hoium, the run in First Solar could be just getting started.
Credit services company Discover Financial Services (NYSE: DFS ) also charged higher by 7.3%, after reporting better-than-expected third-quarter results. Everything was clicking for Discover, which saw total loans grow by $5.1 billion, or 9%, from the previous year, while credit card delinquencies continued to fall. Revenue for the quarter grew 9%, to $1.96 billion, while EPS clocked in at $1.21 -- both numbers well ahead of Wall Street’s expectations for $1.9 billion in revenue, and a profit of $1.03. This is further evidence of why I consider Discover, and the credit service sector, to be the dividend juggernaut of the future.
Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) also had a particularly strong day, tacking on $16.14, or 2.4%, even after an analyst at UBS cut his forecast for iPhone 5 sales from 44 million to 38 million units. UBS noted the timing of its early stage production as the reason for the estimate reduction, although even it states that its estimate is probably conservative. If you recall, Apple completely sold out of its iPhone 5 stock over the weekend, and has had trouble keeping up with demand for the device. I think it’s safe to say that Apple’s future looks to be in great shape.
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