The quiet week continued for the stock market on Thursday, with major benchmarks posting modest gains amid light trading activity. An almost complete lack of market-moving news on the macroeconomic and geopolitical fronts left investors getting ready for the beginning of 2018, when new tax laws could prompt a flurry of activity both in the business world and within stock portfolios. Yet even though gains in the broader indexes were limited to about a quarter percent or less, some companies managed to post much larger increases in their share prices. Insys Therapeutics (INSY), Energous (WATT 2.30%), and Southwestern Energy (SWN -1.25%) 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.
Insys takes a fast track higher
Shares of Insys Therapeutics climbed 11% as investors continued to respond favorably to good news from earlier in the week. On Tuesday, Insys said that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration had granted Fast Track designation to its cannabidiol oral solution in treating an obscure genetic disorder known as Prader-Willi syndrome. The disease, which often leads to life-threatening obesity and diabetes, affects about one in 15,000 children, and no treatments are currently available. Insys plans to start clinical programs in the first quarter of 2018, and bulls for the stock hope that it will prove that marijuana-derived treatments have promise for long-term success for the company.
Energous rallies for a second day
Energous stock soared 33%, bringing its two-day total gains to about 250% as analysts weighed in positively on the wireless charging technology provider. On Wednesday, Energous announced that the Federal Communications Commission had granted certification to the company's WattUp Mid Field transmitter, which allows electronic devices to recharge up to three feet away from the power source. Analysts at Roth Capital on Thursday boosted their price target on the stock to $45.80 per share, expecting high demand from wireless device manufacturers to take advantage of FCC-approved technology. The move bakes in those high expectations and then some, so it will be interesting to see whether Energous can live up to the hype.
Southwestern gets a lift from the energy markets
Finally, shares of Southwestern Energy gained 5.5%. The natural gas specialist has been a big winner from the cold snap that has hit much of the country, with natural gas prices climbing more than 10% on stronger demand for the fuel for heating purposes. Energy markets haven't been kind to Southwestern throughout 2017, as rises in crude oil prices haven't really translated to better results for natural gas. Yet bullish investors hope that favorable trends can help the stock rebound in 2018, and even short-term factors like weather events can help build momentum for the natural gas market heading into the coming year.