Stock market participants displayed a positive attitude on Thursday, apparently buoyed by signs that leaders of the U.S. and China will at least keep meeting in an effort to resolve their differences on trade issues. Major benchmark indexes were up by around half a percent on the day, and with earnings season just about to kick off, investors are looking forward to getting more signs about the likely direction of the U.S. economy for the rest of the year.

Some stocks experienced extremely strong gains due to company-specific good news. Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY), Ra Pharmaceuticals (RARX), and Freeport-McMoRan (FCX -1.10%) were among the day's top performers. Here's why their shares did so well.

Bed Bath & Beyond gets a new CEO

Shares of Bed Bath & Beyond jumped 21% after the home goods retailer announced that it had named a permanent chief executive officer: Mark Tritton, previously the chief merchandising officer for Target. Shareholders were quite happy with the move, as Target has been extremely successful in finding ways to overcome a tough environment for traditional brick-and-mortar department stores. Bed Bath & Beyond is hopeful that Tritton can work the same magic with home goods, and shareholders appear to have a lot of confidence in his ability to get the retailer moving in the right direction again.

Bed and nighttable in a room with windows and open plan, with Bed Bath & Beyond logo.

Image source: Bed Bath & Beyond.

Rah-rah for Ra

Ra Pharmaceuticals' stock doubled in value Thursday after the clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company got a buyout bid from industry peer UCB. The  Belgian company offered roughly $2.1 billion for Ra, with shareholders to receive $48 per share in cash. UCB CEO Jean-Christophe Tellier described Ra Pharma as "an excellent strategic fit" for his company that would add to its already significant product pipeline and enhance its growth prospects. Ra CEO Doug Treco also pointed to the value of his company's ExtremeDiversity technology platform, which should help the combined company move forward in the development of more innovative products. The big premium came as a surprise to investors, but Ra shareholders couldn't be happier with the deal.

Freeport gets an upgrade

Finally, shares of Freeport-McMoRan moved higher by 5%. The copper and gold mining company got favorable comments from analysts at UBS, including an upgrade for the stock from neutral to buy. UBS believes that investors have focused too much on temporarily low copper prices in bidding down the value of Freeport's shares, while ignoring the longer-term factors likely to drive the mining company's success. It's true that the price of copper tends to track economic growth closely, and prospects for the global economy are uncertain. Yet with gold having come back into favor  among investors, Freeport might well be in the right place at the right time.