Tuesday continued to show a stock market divided, as major benchmarks that focus on large-cap stocks kept powering higher even as small-cap indexes lost more ground. The Dow Jones Industrial Average posted triple-digit gains to finish at a record, but weakness from the technology sector weighed on the Nasdaq Composite. Investors seem to believe that the resolution of some key trade disputes favors large multinationals over small domestic companies, and some foreign stocks also had good showings. Petroleo Brasileiro (NYSE:PBR), Lamb Weston Holdings (NYSE:LW), and IAMGOLD (NYSE:IAG) were among the best performers on the day. Here's why they did so well.
Better times ahead for Petrobras?
Shares of Petroleo Brasileiro picked up 9% on a good day for Brazilian stocks overall. The state-controlled oil company has had to deal not only with the volatile conditions in the crude oil market over the past several years but also the troubled political situation in Brazil, where key government officials are often linked to Petrobras' fortunes. Yet today's gains seem motivated by high demand for drilling projects off the coast of the South American nation, and Petrobras claimed its fair share of promising assets in auctions run by Brazil's oil regulator. If Petrobras can put its scandals behind it, its prospects for long-term production growth still look strong.
Hotter than an Idaho potato
Lamb Weston Holdings stock rose 9% after the Idaho-based supplier of potatoes and other food products reported its fiscal first-quarter financial results. The company said that sales were higher by 12% from the year-earlier period, with favorable impacts from tax reform helping to lift adjusted earnings by nearly 30%. CEO Tom Werner also sees the future playing out well, as he pointed to favorable conditions in the North American market that should offset challenges from poor potato crops in its European joint venture operations. A spun-off company from ConAgra Brands, Lamb Weston has seen solid gains this year, and as long as demand for value-added food products continues, its prospects look good.
Finally, shares of IAMGOLD gained 4%. The gold market posted a decent rebound today, with bullion prices climbing back above the $1,200-per-ounce mark with a $14 gain. Bullish gold investors are pointing to factors like higher U.S. budget deficits and geopolitical uncertainty as reasons to own the yellow metal, but that hasn't been enough in recent months to prevent a slide in the precious metals market, and gold's overall weakness lately has caused an even sharper decline in IAMGOLD's stock price. After a great performance in 2017, IAMGOLD will need further gains in order to claw back what it's lost so far this year.