"Hi ho silver, away!" The broad-based S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) was again off to the races, following a slew of generally positive economic data that sent the market indexes to highs not seen since 2007.
U.S. jobs data was more-or-less in-line with expectations, with 157,000 jobs being added in January; however, the unemployment rate ticked slightly higher, to 7.9%. What seems to be more in focus is the fact that the government noted that hiring over the past two years has been stronger than it originally thought. Tack a strong auto sales report, and data out of the European Union that showed lower levels of unemployment and inflation, on top of the aforementioned jobs data, and we have all the fuel needed for today's explosive move higher.
For the day, the S&P 500 finished higher by 15.06 points (1.01%), to close at 1,513.17.
As you might imagine, a decisive move higher in the S&P 500 has left us with numerous stocks bearing up arrows next to their share prices. Here's a glance at today's three best stocks.
Gaming products and accessories retailer GameStop (NYSE:GME) surprisingly led the pack of all S&P 500 companies after receiving an upgrade from Piper Jaffray to "overweight," with a $28 price target. Jaffray notes that multiple new releases should help spur sales at GameStop. There's little denying that GameStop is inexpensive and a veritable cash flow powerhouse, but the ongoing threat of litigation by video game developers attempting to block GameStop from reselling used games continues to be a black cloud on its long-term growth prospects. Shares finished better than 6% on the day.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average's worst performer in January, Bank of America (NYSE:BAC), notched a solid gain of 3.4%, following today's positive jobs data, as well as yesterday's announcement of its rebranding initiatives. As my Foolish colleague, Jessica Alling points out, it's probably not a great idea to get swept up in a one-day move caused by this announcement, but as a shareholder of Bank of America myself, I can actually see the slow-but-steady progress in Bank of America's loan portfolio and capital ratios beginning to take hold. I intend to hold, at least for the time being.
Finally, PC-maker Dell (UNKNOWN:UNKNOWN) had a wild ride today as new details continue to emerge on a daily basis about potential buyout talks between private equity firm Silver Lake Partners and Microsoft, which could add some financing to the deal. A report from Reuters indicates that, based on two people familiar with the situation, a buyout could be in the works for $13-$14 per share, and could come as early as Monday. Even if a buyout fails to emerge, Dell could just as easily leverage itself and initiate a large share buyback to boost shareholder value. One way or another, current Dell shareholders (myself included) should be rewarded. Dell shares roared higher by 3.1%.