It was a day of mixed data and emotions for the broad-based S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC), which ended lower despite working its way back into positive territory late in the day.
On one hand, the final reading for the University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index in June came in at 84.1, a slight dip from May's reading of 84.5, but still near its highs for the past half-decade. As long as consumer sentiment regarding the health of the economy remains strong, the chance exists that this rally could push even higher.
On the other hand, the Chicago PMI, a measure of manufacturing strength in the Midwest, fell to a reading of 51.6 from last month's 58.7, and well below forecasts calling for a reading of 55. Although any figure over 50 would signal expansion, the rate at which manufacturing is expanding may not be nearly as robust as economists previously thought.
With investors coming to terms with the end of the S&P 500's seven-month streak of advances, the S&P dipped by 6.92 points (-0.43%) to close at 1,606.28. In spite of the downside move, three companies rocketed higher into the weekend.
Leading the pack today was gold miner Newmont Mining (NYSE:NEM), which rose 8.1% despite no company-specific news. Newmont, along with other gold miners, has been hammered in recent months by falling spot gold prices, which put future projects, and even their current high-cost production, at risk. Newmont has already written down the entire value of its Hope Bay mine in Canada, and speculation is that more writedowns may follow. I, for one, think that gold presents an incredible buying opportunity here, and would certainly suggest digging deeper into the sector as a whole.
Drug developer Hospira (NYSE:HSP) also had a notably impressive day, advancing 6% after receiving a positive opinion on inflectra in Europe. Designed to treat rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, and plaque psoriasis, inflectra, a biosimilar of Johnson & Johnson's Remicade, received a positive opinion from the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use, meaning it would recommend the European Medicines Agency to approve the drug. This could be a key win for Hospira, because J&J's Remicade was responsible for roughly $6 billion in annual revenue, and could be a huge bottom-line boost for Hospira.
Finally, cable operator Time Warner Cable (NYSE:TWC) found itself back in the limelight, up 3.9%, with research firm Jefferies seeing upside in Time Warner Cable's shares to $135 if a deal were to get done between it and Charter Communications. Ever since Gannett purchased Belo two weeks ago, M&A rumors in the cable sector have been unstoppable. This is a case where I'd strongly suggest ignoring the analyst white noise and focusing instead on the underlying fundamentals of the company. Time Warner isn't particularly expensive at 15 times forward earnings, but I also don't consider it the value it once was, either.
Fool contributor Sean Williams has no material interest in any companies mentioned in this article. You can follow him on CAPS under the screen name TMFUltraLong, track every pick he makes under the screen name TrackUltraLong, and check him out on Twitter, where he goes by the handle @TMFUltraLong.
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