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.
It hasn't happened often lately, but positive economic data produced a strong move to the upside in the broad-based S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC). Today's primary bullish driver was the weekly U.S. initial jobless claims report, which demonstrated a drop of 21,000 to a seasonally adjusted 323,000. Any figure in the lower 300,000s would suggest that the jobs outlook is slowly improving and is likely to be conducive to an ongoing drop in the nation's unemployment rate.
A tame Producer Price Index, which showed a core jump of 0.2% in October and a headline drop of 0.2%, also bodes well for consumers. The PPI is an index that investors often use to gauge inflation. With the U.S. economy growing at a modest, but not exceptional, pace, relatively low levels of inflation are good news for consumers and overall GDP growth, because consumer spending is such a large component of U.S. GDP.
By day's end, the S&P 500 finished decisively higher by 14.48 points (0.81%), to close at 1,795.85, just shy of another all-time closing high and breaking a three-day losing streak.
Leading all companies to the upside today was department store operator Bon-Ton Stores (NASDAQ:BONT), which shot higher by 23% after reporting a narrower-than-expected third-quarter loss. For the quarter, Bon-Ton delivered a 3% decline in sales to $651.2 million, with same-store sales falling by a similar 2.8%. However, due to significant cost cutting, Bon-Ton was able to narrow its loss to just $0.05 per share from $0.55 in the year earlier. By comparison, Bon-Ton's sales failed to match Wall Street's expectations of $671 million, but it handily surpassed the projected $0.29 per-share loss. The company also stuck by its original guidance of $0.15-$0.75 per share in full-year earnings. While certainly a good day for existing shareholders, I remain concerned that a lack of organic growth can only take this rally so far, and would urge investors to tread carefully around Bon-Ton.
Satellite-based WiFi provider Global Eagle Entertainment (NASDAQ:ENT) advanced 15% after issuing a press release that it can now provide gate-to-gate WiFi service for Southwest Airlines' (NYSE:LUV) passengers. Because Global Eagle's WiFi technology is satellite based and not reliant on cellular towers, it's able to offer passengers the ability to get online throughout the entire flying process. Today's move also follows a multi-day surge that began with its third-quarter earnings release last week. That report highlighted a 286% increase in year-over-year revenue to $74.5 million, as its net loss shrank modestly to $6.8 million from $8 million. Although Global Eagle Entertainment has yet to hit profitability, it's certainly a name I'd suggest adding to your watchlist.
Finally, tissue engineering company Organovo Holdings (NASDAQ:ONVO) gained 11.5% despite a lack of company-specific news... today, at least. Yesterday, Organovo issued a press release regarding its upcoming retail investor conference in which it reaffirmed its belief that it will have a liver tissue assay product on the market in 2014. In addition, this retail conference, which is scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 5, will outline management's revenue forecast for each pipeline product as well as its potential marketing partners and opportunities. With the company still in its clinical stages of development, you can somewhat understand why I remain skeptical of Organovo at its current valuation; but it does bring to the table an idea that, if successful, could revolutionize numerous aspects of patient treatment. As such, I see no reason why it shouldn't be monitored on your watchlist, as well.
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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