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As Wall Street eagerly awaited a monthly payroll report scheduled to be released tomorrow, it found a few good reasons to rally in the meantime. To start with, weekly jobless claims brought pleasant news, coming in at the lowest rate in more than five years. Combine that with the European Central Bank's decision to lower interest rates, and you've got two solid reasons for the S&P 500 Index's (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC ) 0.9% gains Thursday. Unfortunately, these three S&P components couldn't get with the program, suffering major losses.
Cliffs Natural Resources (NYSE: CLF ) leads today's list, slipping a further 5.7% after already suffering a nearly 5% fall yesterday. The iron ore miner and coal producer -- whose stock is already 90% more volatile than the broad market -- took a massive hit after Citi Research called for worrisome declines in coal prices through at least 2014. Citing "chronic oversupply," as well as softer projected demand from Europe and China, analysts see coal prices falling six percent this year, and 15% in 2014.
Demand, or lack thereof, also contributed to International Paper's (NYSE: IP ) 3.5% decline Thursday. While on the bright side, the company reported growth in revenue and earnings in the first quarter, those single-digit advances failed to impress shareholders. A strong housing market brought in more revenues for International Paper's moving boxes, but a weak packaged food industry entirely mitigated the resultant gains.
The last of today's laggards, AbbVie (NYSE: ABBV ) shares dropped 3.4% after word that a Gilead Sciences hepatitis C treatment performed exceptionally well in an eight-week trial. Though the trial only involved 20 patients, the fact that the treatment cured 19 of those patients shows great success and strengthens Gilead's competitive position against AbbVie, which is also trying to develop a hepatitis C treatment that doesn't require injections.
Cliffs Natural Resources has grown from a domestic iron ore producer into an international player in both the iron ore and metallurgical coal markets. It has also underwhelmed investors lately, especially after its dramatic 76% dividend cut in February. However, it could now be looked at as a possible value play due to several factors that are likely to remain advantageous for Cliffs' management. For details on these advantages and more, click here now to check out The Motley Fool's premium research report on the company.