The stock market once again proved its resilience on Thursday, bouncing back from what had been extensive losses earlier in the day. Stock market indexes fell more than 1%, with the Dow falling almost 200 points at one point after the latest readings on trade activity in China suggested the possibility of a broader slowdown in the world's second-largest economy. Geopolitical and monetary policy concerns also surfaced, with some interpreting the three dissenting votes in the Federal Open Market Committee's September meeting as a sign of an increasingly divided central bank.
By the end of the day, though, markets had clawed back much of their lost ground, and major market benchmarks finished with losses of between 0.25% and 0.5%. Some stocks even managed to rise, and the best performers included American Airlines Group (AAL 0.66%), Lindsay (LNN 1.01%), and Gold Fields International (GFI 3.14%).
American flies higher
American Airlines Group gained 5% in the wake of rival Delta Air Lines' (DAL -1.71%) release of its third-quarter earnings results. Delta reported a 4% decline in net income for the quarter compared to the year-ago period, as weaker pricing and higher labor costs offset the lower cost of jet fuel. With revenue per available seat mile falling almost 7% during the quarter, Delta said it would look to clamp down on capacity growth to try to increase the chances of successfully raising its airfares. Comments Delta executives made suggested that the entire industry might be approaching the low point for pricing, and moves to reduce capacity would help American and other airline rivals as much as they help Delta. Most airline stocks climbed in sympathy, but American arguably has more to gain because of its size and competitive position within the industry.
Lindsay has a blowout quarter
Lindsay jumped 11% after the provider of irrigation systems and infrastructure products reported better fiscal fourth-quarter results than most investors had expected. Lindsay said sales came in at $132.9 million, up almost 8% from the year-ago quarter, and the company reversed a loss in the prior period by posting earnings of $0.73 per share. The company's Road Zipper System for highway barrier management was particularly successful, helping send infrastructure segment sales up by nearly a quarter. But irrigation-related sales were also solid despite pressure from a weak Brazilian economy. Even though CEO Rick Parod was less than optimistic about his expectations for a recovery in the agricultural industry, he nevertheless said that improving gross margins could continue to drive solid performance even if sluggish conditions persist.
Gold Fields looks richer
Finally, Gold Fields International rose 4%. The day was a good one for gold miners in general, with the VanEck Vectors Gold Miners ETF (GDX 0.77%) picking up almost 2% on the day. Gold prices posted modest gains, rising about $6 to $1,260 per ounce. One big question that remains important both for the gold market generally and for Gold Fields in particular is how quickly the Federal Reserve and other global central banks will raise interest rates back to more normal levels, as low rates have supported investment in precious metals by reducing financing costs. The recent downturn in gold came after concerns that rising rates could come more quickly than previously expected, and for Gold Fields, the fact that it's based in South Africa adds a currency element to the picture as well. Overall, Gold Fields investors can expect a volatile ride until the future course of monetary policy becomes clearer.