Yesterday's weakness following the Federal Open Market Committee's meeting carried over to today, with investors barreling for the exits and knocking over anyone who stands in the way.
In what was easily the ugliest day of the year, investors exhibited their worries front and center on the possibility that the Federal Reserve would end its $85 billion monthly bond-buying program before the year is out. Although the end to QE3 would be good in the context that it signals that the U.S. economy has grown independent enough on its own to continue without stimulus, it also would be the end of the markets' free money, and could cause interest rates to rise, and bank lending to grind to a halt.
These factors boiled over to send the broad-based S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) screaming lower by 40.74 points (-2.50%), to close at 1,588.19. Despite today's undeniable negativity, three stocks still managed to buck the downtrend and trudge higher.
Video game and gaming accessories company GameStop (NYSE:GME) seriously needs its own residency among the top performers list, once again taking the lead with a 6.3% gain. The impetus was comments made by Microsoft that it was going to deviate from its previous stance and drop curbs on reselling, trading, and lending games for its upcoming gaming console, the Xbox One. This is big news for both companies, as GameStop relies heavily on fat used-game profit margins to grow its bottom line, while Microsoft doesn't want to deter gamers from buying its new system, with Sony also having no curbs in place on used games and its gaming system coming out with its PlayStation 4 in the latter half of the year.
Shares of future exchange operator CME Group (NASDAQ: CME) advanced 1.5% after being mentioned favorably on CNBC by commentator Simon Baker. While I normally would recommend paying little attention to the opinions of analysts, today's move could have more to do with the increasing volatility, given the move lower, which is very likely to increase futures contract volume. Sometimes, the worst of times brings about the best business for CME Group, and we could be seeing signs of that with today's big move higher.
Finally, Zions Bancorp (NASDAQ:ZION), which primarily provides banking and lending services to communities and businesses west of the Rocky Mountains, gained 2%, while the remainder of its peers sank like a stone. It's a bit difficult to decipher why Zions jumped, given that there's no company-specific news out today, but it very well could have to do with the fact that it ignores high-risk, high-reward derivatives and sticks to the "boring" aspects of deposit and loan growth. Although its loan growth could suffer if lending rates rise, it'll receive higher yields on its deposited money, and could see a rapid uptick in deposits.
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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