Friday saw modest losses for the stock market, largely in response to some troubling news on the trade front between the U.S. and China. Chinese trade officials canceled a planned visit to Montana, leading some to fear that what seemed to be thawing relations with the U.S. might be starting to get colder again. Even with that dragging down the major benchmarks, some stocks saw sizable gains. McDermott International (MDR), Scholastic (SCHL -1.62%), and California Resources (CRC) were among the top performers. Here's why they did so well.

McDermott looks to raise cash

Shares of McDermott soared nearly 27% as investors weighed news that the energy engineering specialist was looking at potentially selling one of its business units in order to raise cash. McDermott had seen steep declines in its stock price recently because some were nervous about the company's decision to consult with outside advisors, reportedly contemplating a turnaround strategy. Today, reports surfaced that the company might sell its petrochemical technology division, Lummus Technology, to raise cash. With some seeing a potential payday of $2.5 billion in a sale, that would go a long way toward allaying any fears shareholders might have about outright insolvency at McDermott.

Oil refinery near a body of water on an overcast day.

Image source: Getty Images.

Scholastic takes bears to school

Education and publishing company Scholastic saw its stock pick up almost 6% in the wake of its fiscal first-quarter financial report. Scholastic said that revenue rose 7% from year-ago levels, and although the company routinely reports losses during the out-of-school summer months, the current-period net loss was 5% smaller than what it lost during the same period a year earlier. The company also reiterated its past guidance for the full year. CEO Richard Robinson pointed to best-selling book titles, building out digital capabilities, and managing costs as key contributors to Scholastic's performance, and investors hope it will be able to sustain its positive momentum.

California Resources reassures investors

Finally, shares of California Resources finished higher by 13%. Some investors had heard reports that the energy company might need to restructure its operations and hire outside advisors to help it through the process. However, that proved not to be the case, as California Resources itself denied the statements. Even with today's gains, though, the stock is still quite a bit below where it was before the initial allegations came out. That suggests that some investors aren't sure what to believe, and it could take more time for this story to play out entirely -- especially as the energy sector remains volatile.