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Call it the "amazing streak," but the broad-based S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC ) advanced for a 20th consecutive Tuesday -- an odd and remarkable feat.
Leading the index higher today were comments from the Federal Reserve, which reassured investors that the central bank wouldn't pare back its bond-buying program -- affably known as QE3 -- before it knows the economy is on stable footing. On the economic data front, the Case-Shiller Index delivered growth of 10.9% over the previous year in terms of the nation's 20 largest cities. An improving housing market is one of a crucial number of components to America's ongoing recovery process. Consumers seem to agree, with consumer confidence racing higher to 76.2 in May -- considerably higher than the 68.1 reported last month.
When all was said and done, the S&P 500 moved higher by 10.46 points (0.63%) to close at 1660.06. While today was certainly bullish (yet again!), investors in today's three top-performing stocks have the most to cheer about.
Flying the highest of all was online travel review site TripAdvisor (NASDAQ: TRIP ) , which tacked on 4.2% despite no specific company news. This seems like a case where consumer confidence and higher home prices played a big role in pushing this stock higher. If home prices are rising and consumers are more confident about an economic recovery, then they are more likely to take a vacation. That'd be great news for third-party sites, which have flourished, especially overseas, as consumers look for a good deal. It would also reconfirm TripAdvisors' optimism regarding the upcoming traveling season.
Similarly, investment management and services company State Street (NYSE: STT ) added 4.1% in spite of a lack of news. The move does, however, come just a few days after TheStreet.com reiterated its buy recommendation on the stock. It's also worth noting that State Street Chairman and CEO Joseph Hooley will be presenting at the Morgan Stanley Financials Conference in two weeks. Usually conferences like these allow investment firms like State Street to instill confidence in analysts, and it's not uncommon to see upgrades (and downgrades) follow these meetings.
Finally, and along those same lines, E*TRADE Financial (NASDAQ: ETFC ) jumped 4% both on the comfort that the Fed will continue to buoy the still-fragile markets with QE3 and on the announcement that CEO Paul Izdik will be speaking at the Sandler O'Neil Global Exchange & Brokerage Conference next week. Just as with State Street, these conferences give analysts a good idea about the health of a financial firm and are often followed by upgrades and/or downgrades. For E*TRADE, a lot more is on the line since it's still in the process of recovering from a mortgage loan portfolio rife with toxic and delinquent loans. As long as the Fed keeps lending rate targets near record lows (as it pledged today), it'll allow E*TRADE ample time to recover.
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