"Where we're going, we don't need roads."
Those are the now famous words of Doc Brown at the end of Back to the Future. How is this pertinent to investing? Because where the market is headed, we won't need roads or cliffs, according to U.S. regulators currently hashing out a truly last-minute fiscal cliff deal.
The latest news out of Washington from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is that an agreement has been reached on all tax aspects of the fiscal cliff between parties. The only factor that needs addressing, it appears, is the magnitude of the spending cuts and at what point they would begin to take shape. Based on numerous interviews with CNBC commentators, Democrats would like a term of at least a year before spending cuts begin to hit government agencies, whereas Republicans are set on more immediate spending cuts.
Although no deal has been reached as of yet, the simple fact that Congress is so close to averting driving off the cliff with both hands on the wheel has the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) soaring 23.76 points (1.69%), to finish at 1,426.19.
As you might imagine, today's rally, being based on the fact that a fiscal cliff deal will be a smart move for all walks and sectors of the economy, was broad-based. Within the S&P 500, only four of the 500 components ended the day lower, leaving plenty of investors smiling by day's end.
Mineral miners like Cliffs Natural Resources (NYSE:CLF), which is an iron ore and metallurgical coal provider used to make and strengthen steel, and Peabody Energy (NYSE:BTU), one of America's largest coal miners, rose 8.4% and 4.9%, respectively. If the U.S. can avoid diving over the fiscal cliff, the demand for steel in housing and automobiles, as well as coal both domestically and overseas in China, should continue to rebound. Cliffs could be an especially intriguing play, given its premium dividend.
Technology heavyweight Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) also wasn't left out of the rally, soaring $23, or 4.4%. Today's move could have occurred for a number of reasons. To begin with, window dressing -- the act of adding top-performing stocks to an investment portfolio to "dress up" the image that it's holding winners -- by top institutional holders could account for some of today's move. Value investors likely also had their say in moving Apple higher. At just nine times forward earnings and with $121 billion in cash, Apple is still a cash cow.
Even distressed companies like Best Buy (NYSE:BBY) turned in exceptional performances today, up 5%. Based on Experian Marketing Services data, Best Buy was the fourth-most-visited site on Christmas Day, and it was in the top three or four most-visited sites among many other research compilations. With co-founder Richard Schulze arranging a possible buyout offer to take the company private and Best Buy's initiatives, including price-matching, to counter the showrooming effect, I think investors aren't giving this retailer nearly enough credit.
Rebound time or run away?
Cliffs Natural Resources has grown from a domestic iron ore producer into an international player in both the iron ore and metallurgical coal markets. It has performed well, relative to many competitors, in a very cyclical industry because of several factors that are likely to remain advantageous for Cliffs' management. For details on these advantages and more, click here now to check out The Motley Fool's brand new premium report on the company.
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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