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Markets were solidly up today thanks to some strong economic data. Investors are eyeing Friday's unemployment numbers, but we got a sneak peak today as ADP's private-sector data showed 162,000 additions, 10,000 better than anticipated. This will be the second to last unemployment number before the November election, and given the presidential debate tonight, this week may solidify voters' opinions.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI ) fought its way to keep a 12-point gain, or 0.1%, as component Hewlett-Packard took a 13% drubbing on dramatically lowered 2013 guidance. The S&P 500 closed up just under 0.4%, while the Nasdaq posted the biggest move of the three indexes, a 0.5% increase.
On the Dow, no one could top Home Depot, as shares of the home-improvement store increased 2.4%. Bank of America came close with a 2% gain, and Disney came in third with a 1.6% increase. All three were boosted by strong macro data because, as fellow Fool Anders Bylund put it, "Theme parks, home-improvement stores, and checking-account managers all benefit directly when more Americans have, you know, jobs."
Off the Dow, our biggest gainer -- by far -- was Sarepta (Nasdaq: SRPT ) , which climbed an astronomical 200% after releasing 48-week results for its muscular dystrophy drug eteplirsen. Not only did it slow the decline in muscle function as seen in the 36-week data, but patients receiving the larger dose also showed improvement in the walk test. This is a revolutionary breakthrough that could change the lives of the 12,000 suffering from Duchenne muscular dystrophy. The drug works on only about 13% of that population with a specific mutation, but Sarepta hopes to target up to 85%.
Companies that make orphan drugs treating small patient populations often make the lack of volume up on price -- for instance, Vertex (Nasdaq: VRTX ) charges nearly $300,000 a year for Kalydeco, its cystic fibrosis treatment. If approved, pricing for eteplirsen should be in a similar ballpark, if not more. Even after hitting a billion dollars in market cap, Sarepta still has upside.
Meanwhile, General Electric (NYSE: GE ) and Boeing (NYSE: BA ) both climbed 0.5% after completing a deal for 85 737s for GE's leasing business. The deal puts $6 billion into Boeing's backlog, although the final prices are expected to be less.
To find out whether GE is still a buy after gaining 31% in 2012, download our new premium General Electric report. It goes through key opportunities and risks facing GE and comes with a full year of updates. Get your copy today by clicking here.