Today's 3 Best Stocks in the S&P 500

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

Kicking the can further down the road is rarely a plausible investing thesis, but with the U.S. government only one week away from a possible debt default, the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC  ) was looking for any positive signs to send it higher. Today, we got those signs.

While no deal has been reached as of this writing, it appears that House majority leader John Boehner and the Republican party are willing to temporarily raise the debt ceiling to avoid the first-ever U.S. debt default. Obviously, that would save the U.S. from a slew of possible credit downgrades from the ratings agencies, and it would position both political parties to work toward a longer-term solution. However, I am not that encouraged, because time has not been of the essence with Congress over the past two years.

On the flipside of today's bullish news is the fact that the government shutdown has entered its 10th day and shows no signs of ebbing. Although the Republican party has turned its attention away from Obamacare and toward fiscal issues, it doesn't appear either party is any closer to solving this gridlock anytime soon.

By day's end, the S&P 500 took its bullish short-term cues, and headed higher by a whopping 36.16 points (2.18%), to close at 1,692.56 -- just its fifth up day in the past 16 sessions, but quite a doozy of one!

As you might have imagined, there were some very strong gains to be had within the S&P 500 today, though none shone brighter than big-box retailer Best Buy (NYSE: BBY  ) , which gained 7.6% on the day. The reason for the big pop was word from Best Buy that it would be offering a $100 trade-in value for all working smartphone with the purchase of a new smartphone. The allure here is that Best Buy's promotion will drive consumers traffic looking to trade for the base model Apple iPhone 5c or iPhone 5c 16 GB, which would be free and $99, respectively, after trade-in. It could be a bit of a margin hit upfront, but the added customer traffic should drive customer loyalty, and add on sales down the road for Best Buy.

Shares of biotechnology giant Gilead Sciences (NASDAQ: GILD  ) added 6.5%, a day after reporting that its late-stage study of idelalisib, for patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia who aren't fit for chemotherapy, was stopped early due to "highly statistically significant efficacy," which would have met the primary endpoint of the trial. There's still a lot of room for growth in CLL treatments, and Gilead has been a superstar when it comes to clinical trials over the past year. Chalk this up as yet another reason why Gilead could chug even higher.

Finally, Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC  ) shares tacked on 6.1% after forging a multi-year content distribution partnership yesterday with Univision Communications. As we've been witnessing for the past couple of months, consolidation in the broadcasting sector is the name of the game. Companies that are "buddying up" are realizing that their pricing power is better with advertisers, and that their flexibility for future partnerships, buyouts and/or mergers improves. Don't be surprised if you see more partnerships announced in this sector over the coming months.

Three retailers getting it right
As the now-defunct Circuit City and Borders taught us, the retail space is in the midst of the biggest paradigm shift since mail order took off at the turn of last century. Only those most forward-looking and capable companies will survive, and they'll handsomely reward those investors who understand the landscape. You can read about the 3 Companies Ready to Rule Retail in The Motley Fool's special report. Uncovering these top picks is free today; just click here to read more.


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