The S&P 500's (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) had a whale of a year so far in 2014 after a sluggish start to the year, and it put on quite a show today after Monday's shellacking. The S&P notched a new record high at the market close today, gaining 1.3% on a day when most stocks across the market surged into the green in a big way.
Monday's bane of fears over a Russia-Ukraine conflict wore off today, helping restore confidence to a market shaken by the outbreak of the standoff in Eastern Europe. The announcement of a scheduled end to Russian military exercises on the Ukraine border today helped, especially as no major economic reports left the Ukraine showdown as the sole market-shaking news of the day. However, with Western and Russian leadership still at odds over events in Crimea, expect more to come from the drama in the coming weeks as Kiev's new leadership tries to sort out the situation.
Stocks from the energy sector to the defense industry have paid close attention to the situation, but out of all the day's best stocks today, the three best gainers came from industries such as video games and biotech, as Zynga (NASDAQ:ZNGA), Isis Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:IONS), and VipShop Holdings (NYSE:VIPS).
Let's start off with Zynga, as shares of the social gaming firm climbed 8% today. That's continuing the astronomical start Zynga's posted to kick off 2014, as the stock's jumped more than 32% year to date with only two months in the books. Today's jump excited investors after Zynga announced it will push a handful of its biggest titles to smartphones and tablets in the very near future, chasing after the lucrative mobile market in the hopes of reigniting growth.
Zynga's taking its popular Words With Friends and Zynga Poker to mobile soon, and the company's also planning to launch a new edition of its FarmVille 2 simulator. It's part of CEO Don Mattrick's goal of becoming the dominant free-to-play game developer in Western markets, but it'll be a challenge capturing the top spot in a crowded and competitive mobile gaming market. For today, however, investors have rallied behind the potential in a stock that's suffered since its IPO despite this year's gains.
Elsewhere on the markets, Isis Pharmaceuticals rallied back from its recent slip by gaining 8.7% today. The stock took a beating after disappointing investors in its most recent earnings report, posting revenue that gained 113% year over year yet still wasn't enough to keep the company from losing more than $24 million in net earnings for the quarter, a huge jump year over year. Part of the trouble came from Isis's recent climb, as the stock's jumped more than 200% over the past year. Isis plans to kick off phase 3 trials for two of its antisense drugs in the near future, but don't expect this company's unprofitable streak to end anytime soon. Today's pullback shows that investors still are behind this developmental biotech, however -- and with plenty of cash on hand, Isis still has plenty of time to unlock the promise of its drug pipeline.
Neither Isis nor Zynga matched up with today's big gainer, however. Vipshop Holdings jumped a whopping 32.6% today. The China-based online retailer crushed its fourth quarter earnings, posting adjusted earnings per share of 49 cents, a figure that not only smashed analyst expectations of 41 cents per share but also grew tremendously over the 16 cents per share quarterly earnings that Vipshop posted a year ago. The company's first quarter revenue projections also came in much higher than analysts had projected, and investors were quick to capitalize. It's all optimism right now around Vipshop, but with the stock up more than 400% over the past year and valuations jumping, the company will have to hit all the right marks to match the market's rosy expectations.