In the final trading day of the first quarter -- the markets will be closed tomorrow for Good Friday -- Wall Street had a handful of catalysts to drive it higher. A secular rebound in the housing market, coupled with continued Federal Reserve stimulus measures and increasing corporate profits, helped drive the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) 52 points, or 0.36%, higher, to end at 14,578.
A Wall Street Journal article highlighting the quickly growing demand for supercomputers -- sales for the high-end machines surged nearly 30% last year to reach $5.6 billion annually -- bodes well for International Business Machines (NYSE:IBM), which added 1.1%. Big Blue makes a chip for supercomputers that uses less electricity than other competitors; that's a major advantage, as extra performance tends to require a very high level of electricity to function.
One of the biggest energy companies in the world, Chevron (NYSE:CVX), declined 1.1%, to end Thursday as the worst-performing blue chip stock. Investors may be selling off after comments from Utah's Governor that essentially promised that the state would be forcing Chevron to clean up its most recent spill in the state. It's the third Chevron spill in Utah in three years, causing the governor to chastise federal environmental regulators, and take a hard line against the pipeline operator.
Fossil fuel refiner and marketer Phillips 66 (NYSE:PSX) added 2.5%, after agreeing to raise around $300 million in an IPO that will sell off a small part of its current business that deals with the operation and development of a variety of its midstream assets. It didn't hurt, either, that Phillips has been on a roll all this year: its stock is up more than 30% in the first quarter alone.
Lastly, shares of Cliffs Natural Resources (NYSE:CLF) rose 3%, bouncing back from a dismal showing yesterday, where shares ended as the worst performers in the entire S&P 500. After Wednesday's monumental 13.9% haircut, the extreme bearishness on the heels of a scathing analyst downgrade yesterday brought out bargain hunters today, which helped the stock gain a small portion of its losses back.
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