It's been an extraordinary week for the stock market, and Wall Street continued to celebrate on Thursday morning. Even though there's still no clear winner in the presidential election, investors nevertheless seem to feel that they can handle whatever the future might bring on the political front for the next four years. As of just before 11:30 a.m. EST, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) was up another 577 points to 28,424, and the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) gained 74 points to 3,517. The Nasdaq Composite (NASDAQINDEX:^IXIC) also participated in the gains with a rise of 275 points to 11,866.
Marijuana stocks played a role in lightening the mood on Wall Street, with major players benefiting from successful efforts to legalize cannabis in several U.S. states. On the industrial front, General Motors (NYSE:GM) also saw gains following the release of its latest earnings report.
A smokin'-hot day for pot
The cannabis industry saw big gains as investors digested the evolving progress in counts for Tuesday's elections. Aurora Cannabis (NASDAQ:ACB) and Tilray (NASDAQ:TLRY) led the way higher with explosive gains of 23% each. Canopy Growth (NASDAQ:CGC) settled for a more modest 9% gain.
The gains weren't just for growers. For instance, Innovative Industrial Properties (NYSE:IIPR), which helps cannabis grow operations find appropriate real estate and then navigate the various regulations surrounding cannabis-related property use, saw its shares soar 13% on Thursday morning.
Most commentators pointed to election hopes for the gains. The fact that five states supported recreational or medical marijuana shows the prevailing trends favoring cannabis.
But adding to the good mood was a strong earnings report from Innovative Industrial. Revenue and net income roughly tripled from year-ago levels, as did adjusted funds from operations, a key measure for real estate investment trusts like Innovative Industrial. Rent collections looked solid, the stock continued paying healthy dividends, and the REIT purchased several new properties during the period.
Marijuana stocks will need to use election wins to bolster their business operations in order for these stock-price gains to last. However, there are at least some signs that the industry is finally emerging from a tough period over the past couple of years.
Driving higher at GM
Shares of General Motors climbed nearly 2% on Thursday morning. The automaker released third-quarter financial results that made shareholders happy about GM's prospects.
The numbers GM posted were encouraging and showed that the company is managing to hold its own despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Revenue was flat from year-ago levels, but net income surged 74% year over year, producing a 65% rise in adjusted earnings per share. Particularly noteworthy was a big rise in pre-tax operating margin levels, which climbed by more than three-quarters compared to the third quarter of 2019.
GM is seeing a recovery from poor conditions earlier in 2020, and that recovery is happening faster than many had expected. Even GM executives have been positively surprised by the pace of gains, pointing to a nearly 12% rise in sales in China.
General Motors can't afford to coast on its past success, as cost-cutting measures will provide only incremental boosts to earnings. More important will be the efforts to ramp up the automaker's efforts in the electric vehicle arena, where competitors are threatening to make the Detroit-based GM obsolete.