After two consecutive days of 100-point gains, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) fell almost 100 points yesterday when talks between the two sides of the fiscal cliff negotiations apparently fell apart. The precipice is looming closer.

While United Technologies (NYSE:RTX) powered higher again on continuing gains in housing, ne'er-do-well tech giant Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) gained more than half a percent on a down day, as it appears PCs might not be as dead as previously thought.

Still, the three stocks below managed to far outpace the Dow, some even surging higher by double-digit percentages. Resist the urge to high-five everyone in the cubicles next to you, however. Smart investors won't celebrate until they know why their stock surged, because without a fundamental basis for the bounce, these stocks could just as quickly make the return trip down.



Suntech Power (NYSE: STP)


National Bank of Greece (OTC:NBG.DL)


General Motors (NYSE:GM)


Hot to trot
Having friends in high places was the theme behind the gains registered by these companies. Last week, China was willing to dole out $1 billion to Trina Solar (NYSE: TSL), one of its favored solar shops, sending its stock higher. Today the government weighed in again, saying the industry was in need of consolidation. That likely means its favorite sons will again be the beneficiary of the heavy hand of the state, and that sent both Suntech Power and LDK Solar (NYSE: LDK) surging. With Suntech up almost 18%, LDK wasn't far behind, rising 13% higher.

With fewer players vying for business, more-established solar shops should do better, which in theory suggests Suntech will at least have the inside track to being one of the winners.

For National Bank of Greece, its home country got a bit of a reprieve when Standard & Poor's upgraded its sovereign-debt profile to "B-" with a stable outlook. That pulls it back from the ledge it was standing on when the world expected it to slide into default, but the European Community has apparently decided Greece is worth saving, having committed to ensuring that it remains a part of the eurozone -- so much so that the EU and the International Monetary Fund will funnel some 49 billion euro to Greece by the end of March.

Driving off the road
General Motors wasn't called Government Motors without reason -- the carmaker has remained under the tutelage of its Treasury Department masters ever since it was bailed out, even until the end retaining a 40% stake.

So when the government said it was going to unload its shares for $5.5 billion, it meant the carmaker would finally be free of the yoke that's weighed it down. It used to be said what was good for GM was good for the country, but while it's long past time Treasury got out of running an automobile company, the taxpayers are taking a huge 50% loss on what essentially amounted to a huge transfer of wealth from bondholders and taxpayers to favored parties, primarily the autoworkers union . In selling the shares to GM for $27.50, Treasury falls far short of the $54 share price it needed to break even, and the taxpayers get hosed for the difference .

Even put out to pasture, it's not certain GM is a worthwhile investment. Ford (NYSE:F) has been a more financially sound, sales savvy company whose stock, even though it closes in on its 52-week high once again, presents a far better opportunity for investors. 

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.