The market melt-up continues to pick up steam with the preliminary figures from the University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment survey rising to 83.7 in May, from just 76.4 in April – it's highest reading in six years. The logic here is simple: If businesses and consumers are viewing the economy in a positive light, then they'll be more apt to spend their money and/or expand their business. That's good news for what's still viewed as a fragile and slow-growing U.S. economy.
Combine this opinionative survey with the fact that a good chunk of the broad-based S&P 500's (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC ) companies topped earnings expectations this quarter, and we have all the reason investors needed to send the S&P 500 to another all-time high.
For the day, the S&P 500 finished higher by 15.65 points (0.95%), to close at 1,666.12. While a strong move, it doesn't even hold a candle to today's three best performers.
Tying for biggest gainer was Goodyear Tire & Rubber (NASDAQ: GT ) , which advanced 7% despite no company-specific news. Goodyear has certainly had its fair share of problems with weak European auto sales wearing on its tire volumes and pricing. However, strong auto sales in China as well as lower rubber costs, compounded with a six-year high in consumer sentiment in the U.S., could be just the recipe Goodyear needs to grow its wings again. Having forecast an operating profit in the neighborhood of $1.4 billion, Goodyear remains a very intriguing value on my own personal Watchlist.
Refiner Tesoro (NYSE: TSO ) enjoyed a nice 7% boost, as well, after receiving formal antitrust approval to buy BP's Carson plant refinery in California for $2.5 billion. Tesoro is currently the second-largest refiner in California, so the possibility that it was creating a monopoly in the region had originally been the cause for concern among investors. However, the Federal Trade Commission noted that demand for California-grade gasoline has been on the decline over the last decade, and this deal between Tesoro and BP shouldn't alter that trend or cause an unfair competitive advantage with seven different refiners supplying the region. I feel that Tesoro shareholders should relish today's move, but they should also be keeping their eyes on crude prices. If they stay range-bound, then refiners are in good shape to clean up this year.
Finally, chip maker Advanced Micro Devices (NYSE: AMD ) regained 6.3% following yesterday's double-digit tumble. Research firm Goldman Sachs downgraded AMD to a "sell" rating yesterday, and implied a greater than 40% downside risk to its share price because of the company's reliance on PC-market chip sales to drive revenue. However, AMD's push into gaming consoles and cloud-based technologies is hopefully going to prove enough to pull it back to profitability by as early as the third quarter. While it's no longer the deep discount I once considered it to be, it's still an intriguing turnaround candidate worth adding to your Watchlist.