The stock market finished generally higher on Thursday, with major benchmarks climbing by as much as half a percent. Anticipated tariffs from the White House did indeed go into effect, including 25% levies on steel and 10% on aluminum, but some market participants were heartened by carved-out exceptions for Canada and Mexico that signaled a willingness to negotiate with NAFTA partners. Moreover, some key stocks posted gains that helped improve the mood among investors. Las Vegas Sands (NYSE:LVS), Wynn Resorts (NASDAQ:WYNN), and Rent-A-Center (NASDAQ:RCII) were among the best performers on the day. Here's why they did so well.

Las Vegas Sands makes a sale

Shares of Las Vegas Sands climbed 5% after the casino giant agreed to sell its Sands Bethlehem resort in Pennsylvania for $1.3 billion. The buyer is Wind Creek Hospitality, which is an affiliate of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians of Alabama. CEO Sheldon Adelson praised the work that his company did in promoting the resort, calling it "one of the leading regional entertainment and gaming destinations in the United States." It'll be interesting to see whether Sands seeks to replace its sold property by bidding in auctions for another Pennsylvania casino, or whether it instead refocuses on key properties in Macau and Las Vegas.

Venetian hotel and resort as seen from Las Vegas Boulevard in Las Vegas.

Image source: Las Vegas Sands.

Wynn Resorts sees more departures

Wynn Resorts stock gained more than 6% in the wake of two members of its board of directors choosing to leave the company. The company said that Ray Irani had resigned effective this past Monday, while Alvin Shoemaker will serve out his remaining term but not seek re-election when it ends in 2019. Both directors are named in lawsuits as having failed to deal with the situation that led to sexual misconduct allegations against former CEO Steve Wynn, who left his post in February. The move higher suggests that shareholders hope the departures will help the company put the episode behind it, but many think there's a lot more to go before a final resolution is reached.

Rent-A-Center makes layoffs, looks for strategic alternatives

Finally, shares of Rent-A-Center picked up 10.5%. The rent-to-own specialist announced that it would cut its corporate staff by about 250 jobs, marking a 25% cut, in an effort to reduce overhead costs for the organization. Rent-A-Center also said that its board of directors is looking at strategic alternatives that could include a possible sale of the company. With activist investors at Engaged Capital and Marcato Capital both seeking to have the rent-to-own retailer take such measures, most shareholders see today's move as a win amid a tough business environment for the company's retail operations.

Dan Caplinger owns shares of Wynn Resorts. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.