Image source: Williams Companies.

Thursday was another day of solid performance from the stock market, and major market benchmarks made modest advances of between a tenth and a quarter percentage point to stay close to their all-time record high levels. Favorable earnings news from Wal-Mart and a rebound in oil prices helped give support to the overall market, and with activity levels on Wall Street pointing to the popularity of August vacations, most stocks have stayed relatively quiet. However, that didn't keep a few companies from posting impressive returns on Thursday. Williams Companies (NYSE:WMB), Canadian Solar (NASDAQ:CSIQ), and Advanced Micro Devices (NASDAQ:AMD) were among the best performers.

Williams had another offer on the table

Williams Companies climbed 8% on a positive day for the energy market. With the energy giant having just emerged from long-standing but now-ended merger discussions with Energy Transfer Equity, Williams shares rose after reports that the company had apparently received a buyout bid earlier in the summer from Enterprise Products Partners (NYSE:EPD). The rival bid would have created an even larger pipeline behemoth in the industry, but the fact that Williams shares have climbed recently meant that Enterprise's offer gave Williams shareholders little incentive to accept the deal. Even though it's likely that neither party will make any further overtures based on current conditions, investors nevertheless saw the event as reason to think that Williams might have value both as an independent company and as a potential acquisition target in the future.  

Canadian Solar sees its day in the sun

Canadian Solar soared 18% after posting favorable earnings results in its second-quarter financial report. The solar specialist said that it had shipped solar modules totaling 1.29 gigawatts, and revenue climbed more than 11%, helping to propel earnings upward by more than three-quarters from the year-ago period. CEO Shawn Qu noted that the company is currently ramping up at an accelerated pace, with nearly 475 megawatts in currently operating power plants expected to climb by about 900 megawatts in the second half of 2016. Moreover, with a utility-scale project pipeline exceeding 20 gigawatts, Canadian Solar is staking its claim as one of the largest players in the global solar market, and investors seem to like the prospects for Canadian Solar in monetizing its assets and providing additional value to shareholders in the long run.

AMD fights back

Finally, Advanced Micro Devices rose 5%. The chipmaker released evidence of the performance of its new Zen processor core, including a demonstration of a 40% improvement in instructions per clock cycle over past-generation processors. In particular, AMD's new chip outperformed a rival Intel product, once again reawakening the long rivalry between the two semiconductor companies and suggesting that the smaller company can still find ways to beat out its larger counterpart. AMD still has a long way to go to demonstrate that it can turn its product lineup into higher sales among its customer base, but investors nevertheless were encouraged by the progress that the company has made recently toward competing more effectively in the chip industry.

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