The stock market finished the week on a positive note, with most major benchmarks gaining ground on Friday. The employment picture in the U.S. improved during March, bouncing back from extremely weak February readings and suggesting that fears of an imminent recession have been greatly exaggerated. Moreover, some companies had good news that sent their shares sharply higher. Scientific Games (NASDAQ:SGMS), Chesapeake Energy (OTC:CHKA.Q), and Snap (NYSE:SNAP) were among the top performers. Here's why they did so well.
Scientific Games makes a winning bet
Shares of Scientific Games rose 6% after the digital game and casino equipment provider announced that it had filed a registration statement that would allow its SciPlay subsidiary to go public. SciPlay offers a variety of social games for mobile devices, including well-known franchises Monopoly Slots and Jackpot Party Casino, and it also holds intellectual property rights to develop games with licensed brands like James Bond, Michael Jackson, and the Godfather movie franchise. Even after the IPO, Scientific Games intends to hang onto a majority stake in SciPlay, but many hope that proceeds from an offering of a minority interest will help the parent company pay down some of its outstanding debt.
Chesapeake climbs on oil's rise
Chesapeake Energy's stock enjoyed a 6% gain as the energy company reacted favorably to the rising price of oil. West Texas Intermediate crude oil closed higher by more than $1 per barrel, climbing above the $63 mark and showing signs of strength heading into the key summer driving season. Bulls believe that Chesapeake could easily add to its gains of more than 50% so far this year, as the company has worked hard to boost its exposure to crude oil and try to improve the condition of its balance sheet. Chesapeake still has a lot of debt, and so higher oil prices could help it pay down what it owes a lot faster and provide more money for capital investment, fostering growth.
Snap looks to convince skeptics
Finally, shares of Snap were higher by 5%. The social media company announced on Thursday that it would add a number of features to its platforms, including a new slate of social games for Snapchat, as well as open up new advertising opportunities on other apps. Several stock analysts weighed in on the moves, with mixed reviews of Snap's strategy. Some analyst companies kept neutral to negative ratings on the stock, but a few upgraded their views or boosted their price targets. At this point, the real question is whether Snap's attempts at innovation will get traction -- because if they don't, it could spell the beginning of the end for the social media company.