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The S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC ) jumped behind Wall Street's confidence that Washington will come to a consensus on reopening the government, and raising the debt ceiling soon. The index climbed 0.6% today, helping negate this month's earlier losses, and bringing the S&P's year-to-date gains to around 15.7%. The index climbed back above the 1,700 mark, to boot, a mark it hadn't surpassed at closing since mid-September.
Even as the S&P moved higher, however, a few of the stocks in the index made waves today. Earnings helped the financial sector jump, but one retailer's plans for the future lit up the market. Let's catch up on the S&P 500's three best stocks.
Tesoro's oil leak relief
Refiner Tesoro (NYSE: TSO ) picked up more than 3.8% today. The company has been dealing with a pipeline leak in North Dakota that happened in October. The oil leak was first discovered in late September, but the company has managed to stop the leak of oil. While this could have been devastating to investors -- a reported 20,600 barrels of oil ultimately leaked out of the pipeline, possibly due to age -related corrosion, according to regulators -- North Dakota officials said that no groundwater or surface water was affected by the oil leak.
That's a big sigh of relief that helped this stock track higher today. While Tesoro estimates that the clean-up, which is underway, will cost around $4 million in total, environmental damages could have been much greater if the leak had contaminated water sources. Still, Tesoro's stock has fallen more than 18.4% over the past three months, so investors hardly are happy with the shares' progress, even with today's gains.
Indian IT company Cognizant Technology Solutions (NASDAQ: CTSH ) jumped by 4.6% today, although it wasn't due to the company's own moves. Fellow IT and business solutions outsourcing firm Infosys (NYSE: INFY ) beat analyst projections on revenue today, and boosted its full-year projections due to growth in the U.S. Cognizant has recently surpassed rival Infosys in the Indian tech outsourcing market, but the latter's beat and optimistic outlook has pushed investors to renew their confidence in Cognizant. We'll get a better picture of whether that confidence is warranted when Cognizant releases its own earnings on Nov. 5, but the stock's done very well over the past three months, as shares have picked up 18.5%.
Still, neither Tesoro nor Cognizant could match Safeway's (NYSE: SWY ) gains today. The grocery retailer picked up 6.9% on the day of its earnings release, even though Safeway impressed no one on Wall Street. The company's net income plunged 58%, and revenue rose just 1%, although the latter mark did surpass analyst projections.
However, investors were able to overlook Safeway's poor earnings as the company announced moves to help it key in on its core grocery business. The firm said it will leave the competitive Chicago market next year, as Safeway's Dominick line of stores, a segment it acquired in 1998 that operates in the area, has weighed on the company's results.
Don't get too cheery about this move, however, as Safeway is still battling against nationwide competition from regional rivals, high-end grocers appealing to niche tastes, and superstores such as Wal-Mart that are encroaching on the ground of traditional grocery retailers like Safeway. This stock has soared in 2013, but Safeway's earnings prove this company isn't so safe just yet.
Spice your portfolio up with the market's best retailers
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.