I hope all the naysayers enjoyed the small correction that we had in April, because the market has once again found its legs and the broad-based S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) is eyeing the uncharted 1,600 level.
Heralding the move higher today is both a mixture of international news and domestic economic data. Overseas, word that Italy formed a government -- a concern that had plagued much of the EU since the Italian elections two months ago -- should help ease fears that a split government wouldn't enact much-needed austerity measures. A little closer to home, the core personal consumption expenditure index was flat for March, signifying that inflation is well under control.
By day's end, the S&P 500 claimed a new all-time record close -- albeit fractionally -- ending higher by 11.37 points (0.72%) to close at 1,593.61. The previous all-time record closing high was set earlier this month at 1,593.37.
Today's best performer was ratings agency Moody's (NYSE:MCO), which surged 8.3% after it and McGraw-Hill (NYSE:SPGI) subsidiary Standard & Poor's settled a lawsuit with slightly more than a dozen plantiffs in a case involving their rating of financial securities relating to the financial crisis. Although no financial figures were disclosed, settlements in cases like this are extremely common and usually for less than the sought-after amount, since court fees can be quite expensive. This could also bode well for future and ongoing litigation such as the U.S. government's suit against McGraw-Hill's Standard & Poor's for its selected ratings during the financial crisis.
Hospital companies, including Tenet Healthcare (NYSE:THC), which tacked on 6.5%, ran higher following an announcement that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service plans to increase acute-care reimbursements by 0.8%, as opposed to the up to 1% decline some analysts had been expecting. This marks the second time in a month that insurers have gotten a better deal than Wall Street had been expecting and continues to thwart the notion that medical costs are going to fall under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
Finally, Biogen Idec (NASDAQ:BIIB) continued its rapid ascent, up 4.7%, after a report from Leerink Swann showed that third-week prescriptions for relapsing multiple sclerosis drug Tecfidera soared 120% week-over-week. Tecfidera, being an all-oral treatment and having far fewer serious side effects than competing drugs, really should dominate this space for years to come. Biogen, which has cemented itself as a force to be reckoned with in the MS space, looks like a strong buy, even at an all-time high.
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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