Volatility on Wall Street continued on Wednesday, and this time, the prevailing direction was downward. Stocks held gains throughout much of the day, but the latest announcement on monetary policy from the Federal Reserve's Federal Open Market Committee showed the central bank's concerns about the state of the global economy.
The lack of any firm direction for interest rates from the Fed created more uncertainty for market participants, and that sent the Dow and S&P down more than 1% in the last two hours of trading. Still, some stocks avoided the downdraft, and Biogen (BIIB 0.01%), Freeport-McMoRan (FCX -1.86%), and Hawaiian Holdings (HA -2.97%) were among the day's best performers.
Biogen climbed 5% after the biotechnology company posted its financial results for the fourth quarter. The company saw its net income fall 6%, but adjusted earnings of $4.50 per share topped consensus forecasts among investors by more than 10%. Revenue gains of 7.5% were also larger than most of those following the stock had expected, and sales of Biogen's Tecfidera drug for multiple sclerosis approached the $1 billion mark for the quarter.
Favorable guidance for 2016 also helped build enthusiasm among shareholders, but even with today's gains, Biogen stock still trades more than 40% below its best levels of 2015. With Biogen's pipeline including some interesting new prospects, investors will need to watch closely to see if the biotech company can produce further success stories in the future.
Freeport-McMoRan jumped 11%, posting solid gains for the second-straight day following its earnings announcement Tuesday morning. Freeport benefited today from rising prices for copper and crude oil, and shareholders hope that the commodities market can finally end its long losing streak and start a longer-term rebound in the near future.
Investors are also responding to Freeport's new efforts to reduce its debt, and it continues to look at the potential for asset sales, joint ventures, or other strategic options to raise cash and get itself into a better condition financially. Massive writedowns from falling commodity prices caused Freeport to post a sizable loss for the fourth quarter, but the company remains confident that it can emerge from its slump, and bring patient investors long-term rewards.
Finally, Hawaiian Holdings gained altitude, rising more than 11% in the wake of the airline's earnings results Tuesday evening. The airline said that adjusted net income nearly doubled during 2015 as the carrier benefited from low fuel costs and high demand across its entire route map.
With a top ranking for on-time performance and a record number of passengers flown, Hawaiian has moved to expand its summer seasonal service between the U.S. mainland and various airports across the islands. Hawaii is also growing its fleet, and it believes that it will continue to outperform its peers in 2016.