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Holy economic data, Batman! With the Thanksgiving holiday closing the markets tomorrow and setting us up for only a half-day of trading on Friday, the bulls were unleashed with a Thanksgiving Day-sized helping of economic data, which helped to push the broad-based S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) to another all-time record close.
As per the norm, weekly initial jobless claims stole the show, with a drop of 10,000 from the prior week to a seasonally adjusted 316,000. Any figure in the low 300,000 range would be indicative of a slowly improving jobs market and should point to a lessening unemployment rate. Although I'd much prefer to see more full-time job creation, any job creation is good news for the U.S. economy.
The Chicago Purchasing Managers Index, despite falling from a reading of 65.9, which was its quickest month-over-month expansion in three-decades, still came in with a reading of 63, signaling ongoing manufacturing expansion. Investors and economists may be underestimating the growth potential of the manufacturing sector, which could easily set the U.S. up for stronger growth than most people are anticipating.
By day's end, the S&P 500 moved decisively higher by 4.48 points (0.25%) to close at 1,807.23, another all-time high.
Leading all gainers to the upside today was home infusion and home health-care provider BioScrip (NASDAQ:BIOS), which advanced 17.3% as it rode the coattails of a partner's announced deal higher. Earlier today, drugstore CVS (NYSE:CVS) announced that it will purchase privately held Apria Healthcare's Coram division (a home infusion service provider) for $2.1 billion. This purchase raised quite a bit of chatter on Wall Street that BioScrip could also be purchased at a hefty premium, although no particular analyst stated that he or she sees this happening any time soon, necessarily. Although I see quite the potential revenue stream being created from baby boomers' need for care, the interim, which is plagued by weakening Medicare reimbursements and a slew of recent earnings misses, doesn't look nearly as promising for BioScrip.
Small-cap oil tanker operator Frontline (NYSE:FRO) certainly gave BioScrip a run for its money with a 16.2% scamper higher after reporting modestly better-than-expected third-quarter results. For the quarter, Frontline delivered a 12% increase in operating revenue to $126.5 million, as it managed to slash its operating costs by 20%. On an adjusted basis, which excludes voyage expenses and commissions, it produced $51.3 million in revenue on an adjusted loss of $0.46 per share. By comparison, Wall Street anticipated just $49.8 million in revenue and a $0.47 loss per share. Before you get too excited, please keep in mind that overcapacity in oil product transport isn't going to be corrected overnight, so we can probably expect these losses to continue for the time being. However, this is the first time in recent memory that Frontline's management seems positive on its outlook, with the assumption that the retirement of older tankers will soon balance out demand.
Finally, clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company Prosensa (UNKNOWN:RNA.DL) which seeks to treat genetic disorders with RNA-modulating therapies, added 15.5% despite no company-specific news today, at least. On Monday, however, Prosensa and its partner, Newcastle University in the U.K., announced the awarding of a 6 million euro FP7 research grant, which will allow the two to research imaging biomarkers that could be used to help treat Duchenne muscular dystrophy patients. If you recall, Prosensa shares were obliterated earlier this year, when drisapersen, which was developed with GlaxoSmithKline, failed to show any clinical benefit in a late-stage trial for DMD. Today's move looks like a continuation of Monday's bullish news, but I'd probably suggest keeping your expectations in check until Prosensa has something considerably deeper in its pipeline.
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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