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That, my fellow investors, is the sound of the lost decade taking its last breath. It took nearly three weeks of tight trading, but the broad-based S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC ) surpassed its previous all-time closing high set in October 2007, and finished at a new record high.
Helping the S&P 500 vault to a record high was mixed, but generally positive, economic data. U.S. fourth-quarter GDP was revised higher, demonstrating growth of 0.4%, which helped ease investor fears that a recession could be on the horizon. On the flip side, Americans claiming unemployment benefits rose by 2,250 from the previous week to a seasonally adjusted 343,000. Despite the rise, these levels would still suggest a healthier and expanding labor force, which bodes well for the economy over the long run.
Added together, the S&P 500 rallied 6.34 points (0.41%), to close at 1,569.19. Even among the bullishness, three companies in particular really stood out to the upside.
Today's biggest gainer was video game and accessories retailer GameStop (NYSE: GME ) , rising 5.8%. GameStop reported better-than-expected fourth-quarter results on both revenue and EPS, but also noted that same-store sales declined 4.6% during the quarter, as gamers are holding off on purchases until the next generation of gaming consoles becomes available later this year. With that in mind, GameStop's 2013 EPS forecast didn't match Wall Street's expectations at a range of $2.75-$3.15 (Street estimate is $3.38). However, the expectation is that GameStop will offer robust growth and some very easy year-over-year comparisons once those new consoles do become available, which helped push the share price higher. I've often spoken of GameStop's amazing cash flow, and believe it can still be an intriguing income play even at these levels.
There was no questioning the bullishness behind Biogen Idec's (NASDAQ: BIIB ) nearly $10, or 5.4%, move higher today -- the approval of multiple sclerosis drug Tecfidera yesterday by the Food and Drug Administration as a first-line treatment for preventing relapses of MS. As I highlighted earlier today, Tecfidera is the greatest thing to happen in MS patient care in a long, long time. Comparatively speaking, Tecfidera drastically reduced MS relapses with a minimal adverse event profile. Other MS pill-form drugs, such as Sanofi's (NYSE: SNY ) Aubagio, for example, bears a black box warning label about liver complications that can lead to death. Also, Novartis' Gilenya can lead to considerably more serious side effects than Tecfidera. Assuming the European Medicines Agency follows the recommendation of approval that its panel delivered last week, I have little question in my mind that Tecfidera could be one of the quickest drugs to reach the $1 billion sales mark.
Finally, e-commerce marketplace and electronic payment provider eBay (NASDAQ: EBAY ) jumped 4.1% after laying out some very lofty 2015 growth goals. eBay marketplace's chief Devin Wenig is projecting that the combination of global and mobile expansion will lead to a jump in gross merchandise volume from $75 billion in 2012, to $110 billion in 2015. Furthermore, PayPal president David Marcus confided in analysts at its annual investor day that PayPal's business volume could double by 2015 as it expands its in-store physical presence. Both goals may be a bit lofty, but eBay shares are still incredibly cheap relative to its dominance in e-tailing and electronic payments.
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