Wednesday was an up-and-down day for the stock market, with major benchmarks recovering from early declines to trade mostly higher until easing lower at the close. Most of the attention among investors was on the Federal Reserve, which agreed to raise short-term interest rates by another quarter percentage point to a new range of 1.5% to 1.75%. Somewhat surprising was the central bank's apparent stance favoring three rate increases this year rather than four, but bond traders seemed to discount the scatterplot of expectations among Federal Reserve Board members. Despite the little-changed overall market, some stocks managed to post meaningful gains. Whiting Petroleum (NYSE:WLL), Arena Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:ARNA), and First Majestic Silver (NYSE:AG) were among the best performers on the day. Here's why they did so well.
Whiting enjoys higher oil prices
Shares of Whiting Petroleum jumped nearly 10%, putting it among the leaders in a strong energy sector today. Crude oil prices surged almost $2 per barrel to climb above the $65 mark, and investors seem to be growing increasingly comfortable with the idea that any boost in supply stemming from increased production from unconventional sources in the U.S. and elsewhere won't depress prices to the same extent that the energy market saw in 2015 and 2016. With Whiting already predicting good results for 2018 even before prices began to rise, any help that the oil and gas driller gets from the commodity markets is an unexpected bonus.
Arena keeps climbing
Arena Pharmaceuticals stock picked up almost 11%, adding to its gains from yesterday's session. The biotech had jumped following favorable test results for its etrasimod anti-inflammatory candidate drug, but the stock initially reacted negatively to Arena's subsequent announcement that it would take advantage of the boom in its share price by doing a secondary offering of 7.5 million shares. Yet by the end of the day, investors seemed comfortable that the cash that Arena would raise was worth the potential dilution for existing shareholders. After a long struggle for the company, Arena now looks like it's on the upswing.
First Majestic shines
Finally, shares of First Majestic Silver gained over 6%. The silver mining company benefited from a good day for the precious metals markets, where gold climbed $25 per ounce and silver was higher by nearly 3%. Investors are particularly interested in First Majestic because of its aggressive efforts to take greater advantage of the silver market, including the strategic restructuring of a streaming arrangement with a key financing counterparty and its move to make acquisitions to bolster its asset holdings while prices are relatively cheap. Silver is still a long way from its all-time highs, but First Majestic is poised to benefit from the next bull market for the white metal whenever it comes.