Investors got some relief Friday from the long downturn in the stock market, with gains that pushed major market benchmarks up about 2%. A huge bounce in the oil market pushed crude back up toward the $30-per-barrel mark, but more broadly, some signs of emerging bargain-hunting among investors in certain sectors seemed to create a positive feedback loop that helped stocks cut their losses for the week. Among the best performers on the day were JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM), Baidu (NASDAQ:BIDU), and Las Vegas Sands (NYSE:LVS).
JPMorgan Chase jumped more than 8% after the Wall Street bank's stock got a big vote of confidence from CEO Jamie Dimon. The JPMorgan executive spent roughly $26.6 million to buy 500,000 shares of the bank's stock, boosting his total holdings to about 6.7 million shares worth roughly $385 million. Prior to the news, JPMorgan had suffered along with most of the banking sector because of fears about the state of their global counterparts as well as potential losses on loans to companies in the energy industry. Dimon's purchase doesn't change those fundamental concerns, but it did spur other bargain-hunters to consider whether bank stocks have taken a bigger hit than is warranted. Nevertheless, JPMorgan investors will want to see the economy pick up steam and interest rates move higher in order to help support the stock's move Friday.
Baidu climbed 8% on news that the Chinese online-search giant got a leveraged buyout offer from Baidu's CEO and the chief executive of video-streaming website Qiyi to buy the roughly 80% stake in Qiyi that Baidu currently holds. The value of the deal would be based on an enterprise value of $2.8 billion, and the buyout offer stated that the buyers would want to continue a strategic partnership between Qiyi and Baidu following any transaction. As with any executive-led leveraged buyout, some investors were concerned about a potential conflict of interest between the Baidu CEO's duty to Baidu shareholders and his own independent interests, but Baidu's board provided for a special committee with three independent directors to evaluate the offer. Given Baidu's stock-price volatility over the past couple of years, some analysts had anticipated such an offer or even an outright buyout of the entire company. For now, the offer is non-binding, so Baidu investors will have to wait for more news.
Finally, Las Vegas Sands picked up 9%. The move was largely in sympathy with rival Wynn Resorts (NASDAQ:WYNN), which reported better earnings results than investors had expected from the casino giant. Revenue fell about 17%, hitting net income for a 20% loop, but earnings of $1.03 per share beat the consensus forecast by more than a quarter per share. More importantly, Wynn Resorts CEO Steve Wynn said that conditions in the key Macau market have improved so far this year, and if 2016 finally proves to be a turnaround year for Macau, it could also mark the turning point for the beleaguered stocks in the sector. Las Vegas Sands will have to deal with rising competition from new Macau resorts from Wynn and others in 2016, but it's also hoping for further growth of its own and should benefit greatly if conditions do in fact keep improving.