The stock market celebrated Thursday by sending the S&P 500 to a record high. Gains for the major benchmarks varied from a third of a percent to three-quarters of a percent, as investors were generally pleased with signs that the consumer economy in the U.S. continues to move ahead strongly. Solid earnings reports from major retail giants helped to set a positive tone, and even the drop in crude oil prices back down below $50 per barrel wasn't enough to keep the overall market from gaining ground. In addition, good news from other individual companies helped support investor sentiment, and Sears Holdings (NASDAQ:SHLD), Aerie Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:AERI), and Guess? (NYSE:GES) were among the best performers on the day. Below, we'll look more closely at these stocks to tell you why they did so well.

Sears satisfies investors with its earnings report

Shares of Sears Holdings climbed 13.5% after the retailer reported its first-quarter financial results. Revenue fell by a fifth to $4.3 billion, and comparable-store sales were down almost 12%, adding to the downward pressure from closures of Sears and Kmart stores. However, the loss of $244 million was only about half what Sears lost in the first quarter of 2016. CEO Eddie Lampert was upbeat about the performance, noting that "while this was certainly a challenging quarter for our company ... we recognize that we need to accelerate our efforts to improve our operational performance and are moving decisively with our $1.25 billion restructuring program." Whether the cost savings that result from restructuring efforts prove to be enough to save Sears remains to be seen, but the venerable retailer isn't going to give up without a fight.

Sears store location.

Image source: Sears Holdings.

Aerie sees its future more clearly

Aerie Pharmaceuticals stock soared by more than a third in the wake of encouraging results from the phase 3 trial of the company's Roclatan treatment for glaucoma. The trial found that Roclatan achieved its primary efficacy endpoint of demonstrating statistically superior performance in lowering intraocular pressure compared to the two individual components of the combination therapy. Aerie CEO Vicente Anido Jr. praised the news, arguing that "with this positive Mercury 2 [study] data, we now have two successful pivotal trials for Roclatan." With low discontinuation rates for the study, Aerie will have an easier road ahead of it. Relatively few side effects occurred, and investors appear encouraged that the prospects for Aerie's drug are extremely strong going forward.

Guess? looks to turn things around

Finally, shares of Guess? gained 14%. The denim specialist reported its fiscal first-quarter results Wednesday night, which included sales growth of 2%. Even though the key Americas retail business continued to struggle through sales declines and profit pressures, better performance overseas helped to offset some of the headwinds that Guess? faced. In addition, the jeans maker boosted its guidance for the full 2018 fiscal year, now expecting sales to climb at a 3.5% to 5% clip. Tough times in the retail sector don't appear to be over just yet, and Guess? is still seeing some pressure with respect to its ability to drive its business forward, especially in the U.S. market. After such a long time of seeing unequivocally bad news, however, even a few signs of hope for Guess? are enough to get some investors excited about the stock once again.

Dan Caplinger has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Guess?. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.