It's still a little premature to be excited about the U.S. economy, with cleanup and rescue efforts related to hurricane Sandy, as well as the total damage count, still ongoing. However, investors were able to shake off the general malaise, and shoot the broad-based S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) higher by 15.43 points (1.09%), to 1427.59.
Economic figures from near and far aided investor optimism. At home, jobs growth of 158,000, according to payroll processor ADP, signaled the biggest jump in eight months. Abroad, China's manufacturing index advanced to a four-month high, although it did, yet again, come in below 50, which would signal contraction in the sector. It remains to be seen how much of an impact Sandy will have, but this now gives us a baseline to compare to.
After being one of the biggest losers recently, domain registrar VeriSign (NASDAQ:VRSN) added the biggest pop within the S&P 500, advancing by 11%. Last week, VeriSign dove on news that it may not receive approval to run .com domains when its current contract expires on Nov. 30, due to an ongoing review of its .com pricing practices by the Commerce Department. News released today from VeriSign didn't paint a perfectly clear picture, but does seem to indicate that the review will be done shortly, and it expects not to have an interruption to its .com registry operations.
Consumer giant Macy's (NYSE:M) also gave investors something to cheer about, advancing better than 6% on the day, after reporting robust same-store sales growth of 4.1%, and boosting its fall forecast. Further, Macy's noted that online sales are taking off, with growth of 44.6% from last October. These figures take into account the projected negative sales effect of hurricane Sandy, and point to an incredibly healthy Macy's going forward.
On a strong up day like we witnessed today, losers are few and far between, but oil and gas refiners again littered the list. Both Tesoro (NYSE:ANDV) and Marathon Petroleum (NYSE:MPC) were among the 20 worst performers within the S&P 500. Normally, weaker oil prices would mean higher margins for refiners; however, the disruption on the East Coast caused by Sandy has completely stagnated fuel movements. It's not that the demand isn't there; it's that there are few gas stations with electricity capable of pumping fuel. Until this situation is resolved, refiners aren't going to fare well.
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Fool contributor Sean Williams has no material interest in any companies mentioned in this article. You can follow him on CAPS under the screen name TMFUltraLong, track every pick he makes under the screen name TrackUltraLong, and check him out on Twitter, where he goes by the handle @TMFUltraLong.
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