When the global economy looks better, stock markets usually head higher. That simple rule held true today, as the Dow Jones Industrials (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) climbed more than 80 points on good news from China about its economic recovery. The broader market did even better, as the S&P 500 closed at another five-year high, inspiring many analysts to start talking about the potential for the widely-followed benchmark to challenge all-time high levels set before the financial crisis.
Still, not all of the Dow's 30 stocks managed to post gains. Alcoa (NYSE: AA ) lost more than 1%, adding to its declines from yesterday, despite having reported a somewhat promising forecast in its quarterly earnings report on Tuesday. However, as Fool contributor Matt DiLallo explained earlier today, the outlook for aluminum prices in 2013 is starting to look better, and Alcoa will be in the best position to benefit if the aluminum market, in fact, improves.
Beyond the Dow, Suntech Power (NASDAQOTH: STPFQ ) gave back 4%, after a big gain of nearly 13% in the previous session. Solar stocks have been volatile ever since Warren Buffett's MidAmerican Energy did a deal with SunPower (NASDAQ: SPWR ) to buy a pair of California solar projects. Yet, Buffett's buy doesn't change the underlying economic challenges that the entire industry has faced, and solar companies still have to meet the challenge of falling government subsidies and cutthroat competition.
Finally, Smith & Wesson (NASDAQ: SWHC ) fell 3.6%, as pension fund CalSTRS decided to eliminate certain firearms companies from the fund's investment holdings. The fund doesn't have a major stake in Smith & Wesson, but if more funds follow suit, then the impact could be sizable for Smith & Wesson and its peers in the gun industry.
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