The stock market took a breather on Thursday, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 both gave up about half a percent. Investors seemed content to accept a pause in the late-summer rally, and some pointed to ongoing fears about still-unresolved trade disputes and other global macroeconomic stresses that could become more problematic in the future. Yet even with the overall market taking a break, some stocks pushed sharply higher. Insys Therapeutics (NASDAQ:INSY), Signet Jewelers (NYSE:SIG), and Ciena (NYSE:CIEN) were among the best performers on the day. Here's why they did so well.

Insys gets on the fast track

Shares of Insys Therapeutics skyrocketed 34% after the biotechnology company received a favorable designation from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The FDA granted the coveted fast track designation to Insys' epinephrine nasal spray product, which is designed for use in those suffering from the severe allergic reactions associated with anaphylaxis. With the designation, Insys will be able to navigate the FDA approval process more easily and efficiently, and there's a high likelihood that if approved, the epinephrine spray would come to market much more quickly than if the company had to go through the normal process for approval. For those who've been skeptical about Insys' long-term prospects, today's news showed just how much promise it could have if trials continue to go well.

Microscope image of needle poking into cell.

Image source: Getty Images.

Signet sparkles

Signet Jewelers stock jumped 24% in the wake of favorable financial results for the company's second quarter. The jewelry retailer said that revenue rose slightly on a 1.7% pick-up in same-store sales compared to the year-earlier quarter. Despite the fact that adjusted earnings were down by more than half from last year's Q2, CEO Virginia Drosos pointed to ongoing progress in Signet's "Path to Brilliance" transformation plan. The company also successfully made a shift to outsourcing its credit structure, taking away certain risks and letting employees focus on maximizing sales. With the key holiday season coming up, Signet is more confident than ever that it's on the right path, and shareholders seem to agree.

Ciena makes the connection

Finally, shares of Ciena gained over 12%. The networking systems, services, and software company reported fiscal third-quarter financial results that included a 12% increase in revenue, led higher by strength in its converged packet optical networking platform business. Good showings in the Asia-Pacific and European regions offset more sluggish growth in the Western Hemisphere, and CEO Gary Smith pointed to strong customer demand as a reason for further optimism looking ahead. Concerns about three large customers accounting for a third of Ciena's total revenue are justifiable, but for now, investors seem willing to ignore that risk to focus instead on the networking company's growth potential.

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