The stock market plunged on Thursday, with the Dow falling more than 500 points at its worst moment during the day and sending other major benchmarks sharply downward by about 1.5% to 2%. Investors suddenly had to deal with unexpected events in the geopolitical and macroeconomic arenas, with some believing that actions taken by the White House could spark a trade war that would be potentially devastating to global commerce. Yet some companies, several of which could actually benefit from the move, managed to post gains despite the overall negative sentiment. U.S. Steel (NYSE:X), 3D Systems (NYSE:DDD), and Cleveland-Cliffs (NYSE:CLF) 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.

Steel tariffs lift producers

Shares of U.S. Steel jumped 6% on a strong day for steelmakers in general. President Trump said today that new tariffs on steel and aluminum imports will be in place as early as next week, with proposed rates of 25% on steel and 10% on the lighter metal. The White House's earlier proposal had drawn criticism from free trade groups, and the U.S. energy industry had opposed measures that would have required them to use American steel for pipeline construction and repair. Yet following today's announcement, investors in steel stocks believe that they could see at least temporary profit gains by being able to boost prices on the metal they sell.

Control room with monitoring equipment above a strip steel mill manufacturing floor.

Image source: U.S. Steel.

3D Systems gives investors a boost

3D Systems stock climbed over 12.5% after the 3D printing specialist issued preliminary financial results. The company said that fourth-quarter revenue growth will likely be between 6% and 7% from year-ago levels, with adjusted earnings falling sharply. Investors weren't even upset about 3D Systems' decision to delay the formal filing of its annual report, as the company's CEO trumpeted strong growth in key areas like healthcare, metals, and software. Turnaround efforts are far from complete, but 3D Systems has confidence that it can keep making progress in 2018 and beyond.

Cleveland-Cliffs climbs higher

Finally, shares of Cleveland-Cliffs picked up 10%. The producer of iron ore is an indirect winner from the steel tariffs announced by the Trump administration today, because Cleveland-Cliffs provides substantial amounts of raw materials to steelmakers in order to help make their production possible. Also helping the company was its amendment to its asset-based lending facility, which has been increasingly important to ensure that Cleveland-Cliffs has the liquidity it needs. Commodity prices in the iron ore market will remain volatile, but investors are increasingly confident that Cleveland-Cliffs will be able to recover from the tough conditions that have prevailed in recent years.

Dan Caplinger has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends 3D Systems. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.