Friday finally brought some semblance of calm to Wall Street after a week that saw extensive volatility in the aftermath of the U.K. Brexit vote. Yet markets refused to give up any ground, and the S&P 500 climbed back over the 2,100 mark as major stock indexes posted modest gains of 0.1% to 0.4% on the day.
Bond yields fell to record low levels as market participants question whether sluggish global economic trends will ever put central banks in a position to boost interest rates again. Even in a fairly quiet market, some stocks posted substantial gains, and Harley-Davidson (NYSE:HOG), U.S. Steel (NYSE:X), and First Majestic Silver (NYSE:AG) were some of the best performers on the day.
Going whole hog
Harley-Davidson soared almost 20% as investors speculated over whether the motorcycle icon would be the subject of a private-equity takeover bid. The company has gone through plenty of challenges over the past couple of years, with falling sales in the U.S. putting pressure on its domestic market share.
Yet some have pointed to successful penetration of foreign markets outside of the Americas as a source of future growth for Harley-Davidson, and extensive efforts to streamline operations have helped to some extent. Given the value of the Harley brand, going private might be just the answer for a company that has seemed to struggle in dealing with the quarterly expectations of analysts and shareholders alike.
A stock that's as strong as steel
U.S. Steel rose 8%, adding to a 6% rise on Thursday. The steel giant is experiencing at least a temporary rebound in steel prices, and some believe that decisions among steel consumers to reduce their stockpiles over the past couple of years will give way to replace depleted inventories in the near future.
Analysts are pointing to rising iron-ore prices as a sign of greater demand, and although iron ore is an input for steel producers like U.S. Steel, its ability to pass through higher iron-ore costs could lead to sustained strength in the steel market, as well. If construction activity starts to pick up worldwide, that could be another supporting factor for U.S. Steel and its peers in the industry.
First Majestic shines bright
Finally, First Majestic Silver was up 9%. The silver producer has seen impressive gains in light of the rebound in silver bullion prices, which soared another 5% today to approach the $20 per-ounce mark. First Majestic, in particular, has much-more ambitious ideas for silver prices in the future. CEO Keith Neumeyer opined that the price of the white metal could soar to $140 per ounce within the next few years.
The miner has extensive operations in Mexico, where it's the country's second-largest mining company. First Majestic sees increased application for silver for industrial purposes, and ongoing structural deficits in the silver industry could push supply-and-demand factors in favor of higher prices. Similar bullish calls from professionals in the industry have proven worthless, but First Majestic would benefit even from much-less-exciting upward movements in silver prices in the near term.