The May jobs report is in, and apparently, it didn't take much to excite investors with the broad-based S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) shooting higher by better than 1%, to end the week on a high note.
The May nonfarm payroll report delivered the addition of 175,000 jobs -- hardly a mind-numbing figure -- which was higher than economists had speculated, but not enough to keep the unemployment rate from creeping modestly higher by 0.1%, to 7.6%. However, it's easy to overlook the rise in the unemployment rate because it could just as easily mean that people who had dropped out of the labor force because they were unable to find work might be encouraged to seek work again as the employment picture improves.
When all was said and done, the S&P 500 rose 20.82 points (1.28%) to close at 1,643.38, well off its lows for the week. While certainly a strong move for the broad market, three S&P 500 components really stood out to the upside.
Besting the index today was financial services company Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS), which added 6.3% after research firm Macquarie initiated coverage on the company with an "outperform" rating, and placed a $30 price target on shares, implying 18% upside based on yesterday's close. Morgan Stanley is sure to benefit from an improving economy via a better jobs report and rising U.S. stock market, which only increase the value of its financial services. At less than 11 times forward earnings, Morgan Stanley still looks like an attractive investment.
Video game and gaming accessories retailer GameStop (NYSE:GME) continued on its romp higher, gaining 6.2%, after Microsoft clarified that used games will indeed work on its next-generation Xbox One gaming console due out later this year. This is a big sigh of relief for GameStop shareholders, who understand that GameStop makes hefty margins from purchasing and reselling used games. Speculation previously had been that used games would not work on the Xbox One, which could have put a serious dent in GameStop's future cash flow. All told, this will be a win-win for both companies, giving GameStop the margin boost it sorely needs, and keeping customers from shying away from buying the Xbox One knowing they'll be able to buy used games or trade them among friends.
Finally, wholesale power generation and electricity retailer NRG Energy (NYSE:NRG) advanced 5.7% after outlining plans to file for a $400 million IPO to spin-off a percentage of subsidiary NRG Yield. According to the filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, NRG Energy will hold all of NRG Yield's class B shares after the offering, while selling an (as of now) undisclosed amount of class A shares. We've seen a defined trend over the past year toward spin-offs in order to unlock shareholder value, and make companies easier to understand. Clearly, shareholders like what they're hearing and seeing today.