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It was a mixed day for economic data for the broad-based S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC ) .
Following numerous days where we've had clearly defined reasons to head higher or lower, U.S. retail sales data gave investors a reason to smile. In April, retail sales jumped 0.1% compared to estimates that had called for a contraction of 0.3%. Counting for about 30% of U.S. consumer spending, it's always a good sign when retail sales rise during tax month.
Countering that optimism were ongoing rumors that the Federal Reserve may wind down its bond-buying program sooner than expected. We've seen this back-and-forth game of "Will they or won't they?" for some time now. But with the S&P 500 near an all-time high, the stakes are even higher now if interest rates begin to rise.
Overall, the S&P 500 finished the day fractionally higher by 0.07 points (0.00%) to close at 1,633.77. The move today may have been muted, but the move in the following three stocks was certainly eye-popping.
Shares of chip maker Advanced Micro Devices (NASDAQ: AMD ) led the pack higher, gaining 5.6% and closing above $4 for the first time since September. The impetus for the move was the announcement that its new Open 3.0 servers were available for purchase and that they reduced enterprise cost of ownership by up to 57%. With PC demand still weak, AMD is forced to expand its target audience to the cloud and into gaming. This new line of servers coupled with its gaming console wins are certainly good news for existing shareholders.
Streaming content king Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX ) rose 5.4% after noted valued investor Whitney Tilson commented to Yahoo! Finance that "Netflix could be this decade's Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN ) ." Netflix has certainly found its stride overseas and its focus on streaming instead of DVDs is starting to pay off with quicker-than-expected profits. Unfortunately, valuation still remains a big concern for me, personally, and I still wonder if Netflix has the cash flow capability to compete against Amazon when it comes to content negotiation down the road.
Finally, biotech juggernaut Biogen Idec (NASDAQ: BIIB ) added 4.5% after it announced that the Food and Drug Administration had begun reviewing its experimental hemophilia A treatment, Eloctate. This comes just two months after the FDA also began its review of Alprolix for the treatment of hemophilia B. Both reviews are expected to take 10 months and could signal further growth in Biogen's already-robust pipeline. Given the positive reaction we've witnessed from MS-relapsing drug Tecfidera's sales in just the first few weeks, I'd say Biogen could have even more room to run higher.
Will these streaming profits continue?
The tumultuous performance of Netflix shares since the summer of 2011 has caused headaches for many devoted shareholders. While the company's first-mover status is often viewed as a competitive advantage, the opportunities in streaming media have brought some new, deep-pocketed rivals looking for their piece of a growing pie. Can Netflix fend off this burgeoning competition, and will its international growth aspirations really pay off? These are must-know issues for investors, which is why The Motley Fool has released a premium report on Netflix. Inside, you'll learn about the key opportunities and risks facing the company, as well as reasons to buy or sell the stock. The report includes a full year of updates to cover critical new developments, so make sure to click here and claim a copy today.