For months, stock market investors have basked in the glow of all-time record highs. Yet in just two days, major-market benchmarks have sent investors a wake-up call that stock prices can fall as well as rise. Today's drop sent the Dow back down below 17,000 and left market participants wondering whether earnings season will be as strong as hoped and whether the Fed will be able to stay on course to return to a more normal monetary policy. Despite losses of around three-quarters of a percent for the broadest stock market measures, GNC Holdings (NYSE:GNC), Gold Fields International (NYSE:GFI), and YPF (NYSE:YPF) managed to boost their share prices Tuesday.
GNC Holdings rose 4%, finally bouncing from its worst levels of the year as bargain hunters appeared to decide the nutritional-supplement retailer had suffered enough. Last week, news that grocery giant Kroger would buy online natural-foods and vitamin retailer Vitacost only heightened existing fears about GNC's business, which has had to withstand attacks on numerous fronts already this year. Nevertheless, most investors still see GNC earnings and revenue continuing to grow, and with the stock trading at just 13 times trailing earnings, GNC stock could well be worth a speculative bet.
Gold Fields International jumped 6% on a strong day for South African gold mining stocks. Gold itself didn't perform all that well, falling slightly on Tuesday as gold investors look forward to the release of the Federal Reserve's latest meeting minutes for signs of the future direction of interest rates. Strength in South Africa's currency was part of the reason for the rise, with a nearly 1% jump in the rand making Gold Fields' dollar-denominated shares worth more in dollar terms. In the longer run, though, if the rand stays strong, it could keep labor costs high compared to its global rivals and prevent Gold Fields and its South African peers from benefiting fully from any future strength in gold prices.
YPF climbed more than 3.5% as the Argentine oil giant got a boost from positive analyst comments. Despite worries about the potential for reforms hurting shareholders in companies with exposure to Argentina, one analyst firm argued today that the results of the 2015 elections could bring huge gains to shares of Argentine companies traded on the U.S. markets. With the current incumbent president not running for a third term, new growth-friendly policies could turn the tide toward the South American nation, especially if Argentina's current debt repayment crisis gets resolved.
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