On Thursday, the U.S. stock market resumed its upward climb, with the S&P 500 finishing at another record high as investors continued to ride the five-year-old bull market higher. Even though gains in the broad market weren't extraordinarily large, several stocks enjoyed much greater gains, with Sina (NASDAQ:SINA), Stage Stores (NYSE:SSI), and BJ's Restaurants (NASDAQ:BJRI) all climbing substantially today.

Sina gained almost 9%, with two separate items sending the Chinese Internet stock higher. First, industry leader Baidu (NASDAQ:BIDU) created a lot of excitement about Chinese e-commerce stocks generally today when it said that China's e-commerce industry was growing six times faster than its U.S. counterpart. With investors hungry for growth, the idea that China's economy has stabilized, and still provides better opportunities than the U.S., was a big draw. In addition, a research firm noted that Sina could make an initial public offering of its popular Weibo microblog website by midyear and, given the reception that Twitter has received in the U.S., access to the Chinese market could raise massive interest among investors in an IPO.

Stage Stores climbed 13% after the retail company said that it would sell off its discount off-price retail stores to financial-services company Hilco Global. Stage Stores, which operates under several names including Bealls, Peebles, and Palais Royal, turned over responsibility for all of its Steele's off-price division's assets, save a single real-estate lease. Stage CEO Michael Glazer said that he believes that the sale "is an ideal next step for the Steele's retail brand going forward," but it was equally clear that Stage Stores believes that its regular niche department store brands are where it believes it can be most profitable going forward.

BJ's Restaurants soared almost 22% after receiving word from two major shareholders that it would nominate directors for the restaurant chain's board at its annual meeting. Although the company hasn't yet set a date for that meeting, the move from PW Partners and Luxor Capital Partners, which together own almost one out of every eight BJ's shares outstanding, signals a heightened level of activist interest in finding ways to boost the long-struggling stock's share price. With the stock down by almost half during the past two years, investors appear hopeful that BJ's will be better served by new ideas than from current management.

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