Thursday gave investors a huge turnaround from the stock market's poor performance in the beginning of the week. During the morning hours, it appeared as though opening gains might quickly evaporate as they have in past sessions, but a true bounce took hold around midday, and eventually pulled major market benchmarks up around 1.5% to 2%. Many stocks bounced much higher, and Chipotle Mexican Grill (NYSE:CMG), Energy Transfer Equity (NYSE:ET), and Freeport-McMoRan (NYSE:FCX) benefited even more from the better mood on Wall Street than most of their peers.
Chipotle Mexican Grill gained 6% as investors and analysts alike started to gain confidence that the Mexican food fast-casual restaurant giant will eventually recover from the food-borne illness difficulties it has endured recently. Reports that the company has boosted the amount of free food that its restaurants are allowed to give away could help support a recovery for the ailing chain, and the resulting marketing victory could be enormous for Chipotle.
Long-term investors will be more than happy to accept a short-term hit to earnings in exchange for quickly winning back longtime customers' loyalty, and Chipotle still commands a niche that few other restaurants have managed to penetrate successfully. If the company returns to its post-growth track, then shares at today's levels will look like a big bargain.
Energy Transfer Equity soared 23%, reversing declines from the past couple of days. A slight climb in the price of crude oil lifted dozens of energy company stocks on Thursday, but Energy Transfer Equity, in particular, had suffered from fears that its proposed acquisition of Williams Companies might not end up happening in its current form.
Even after the bounce in crude, oil prices remain well below the forecast levels that Energy Transfer had expected for 2016, and a single day's minor rebound won't change the huge impact that oil weakness will cause for its long-term results. Today's gains are a welcome respite for hard-hit shareholders, but follow-through might be hard to find unless Energy Transfer Equity can make it clear it wants to succeed in going through with its deal with Williams.
Finally, Freeport-McMoRan climbed 12%. Along with oil's gains, copper managed to climb higher on Thursday, and investors were pleased to see any signs of a potential bottom forming in the markets for base industrial metals.
Still, Freeport faces plenty of longer-term issues. Even with today's climb, copper remains under $2 per pound, putting further pressure on the copper and energy company to keep costs low in an effort to prevent falling prices from compressing margins too far. The stock is still the worst performer in the S&P 500 so far this year, and a longer-lasting rebound in commodities will be necessary before Freeport can declare an end to its long slump.