Volatility is the name of the game yet again today for the broad-based S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC), which is being tossed around like a rag doll following yesterday's huge tumble.
With no economic data on the table today, investors instead chose to focus for a third-straight day on the implication of the Federal Reserve's meeting on Wednesday, which left open the potential for a paring back of its $85 billion monthly bond-buying program before the year is out.
As I've stated before, this has both positive and negative implications. On the plus side, it signals that the economy is strong enough to move forward without the aid of additional stimulus. Conversely, low lending rates have been spurred on by continued monetary easing by the Fed. Without this easing, there's a good chance interest rates will rise -- we've already seen 10-Year U.S. Treasury yields jump 90 basis points in about two months -- and could cause loan activity to slow to a crawl.
After a whipsaw day, the S&P 500 ended higher by 4.24 points (0.27%), to close at 1,591.89. While certainly volatile, three stocks within the S&P 500 had no trouble putting together a solid day for shareholders.
Leading the pack higher was cloud-software solutions company salesforce.com (NYSE:CRM), which advanced 4.2% on a report that it is about to announce a cloud-software alliance with Oracle according to the The New York Times. The deal would be beneficial to both parties, as it would allow data to be easily shared between Oracle and salesforce's software, potentially making both attractive to prospective software clients. It would certainly make sense for Oracle, which missed Wall Street's estimates with its third-quarter results, and disappointed with its fourth-quarter outlook.
Residential real estate investment trust Equity Residential (NYSE:EQR) had a particularly good day, jumping by 3.4%. REITs that specialize in apartment community ownership are in fantastic shape if the Fed is thinking about reducing its bond buying. As lending rates rise from less monetary easing, the desire to purchase a home should drop considerably, making apartment living a smart choice. Equity Residential already has high occupancy rates, but, as rates rise, it could see occupancy tick even higher.
Finally, shares of drug maker AbbVie (NYSE:ABBV) added 3.8% at the expense of peer Idenix Pharmaceuticals, which imploded after the Food and Drug Administration placed a hold on clinical trials for experimental hepatitis-C drug, IDX20963. The FDA is requesting Idenix supply the agency with additional safety data before it'll let it start clinical trials for IDX20963, placing the company even further behind in the hepatitis-C race. AbbVie, on the other hand, is in great share with its oral hep-c trio performing very in trials and looking like the only serious competitor to Gilead Sciences sofosbuvir -- assuming, of course, that it gets approved.