Concerns about the global economy plagued the U.S. stock market on Tuesday, and investors sent major market benchmarks to their second straight day of losses this week. The S&P 500 fell 1%, while the Dow settled for a 0.75% decline, following international stock markets lower.
U.S. investors have largely been sheltered from the global slowdown, but with earnings season set to start officially next week, companies could continue to see the impact of sluggish economic conditions in key parts of the globe. That could weigh on results, and investors reacted to that prospect negatively. Still, some stocks managed to climb despite the negative sentiment, and Lumber Liquidators (LL 2.75%), SolarCity (SCTY.DL), and Intercept Pharmaceuticals (ICPT 6.72%) were among the better performers on the day.
Lumber Liquidators jumped 11% after the flooring specialist said it had won a California lawsuit. The suit, filed under the state's Proposition 65 covering cancer-causing chemicals, had alleged that the retailer hadn't made consumers aware of formaldehyde in some of its laminate flooring. A court dismissed the suit, and Lumber Liquidators said the favorable ruling marked an important step forward for the company. In the words of the flooring company's statement, "We look forward to continuing to deliver products that are compliant with California's environmental standards." The stock is still far below where it traded before the controversy over its flooring began, but Lumber Liquidators hopes the resolution of the lawsuit will put the episode behind it and allow the company to start making forward progress again.
SolarCity rose 7%. The solar-system provider had a minor news item about a two-megawatt solar array in a remote portion of West Texas, but the more likely cause of the bump had to do with the negative comments that solar peer First Solar made in its analyst-day presentation. First Solar said it wouldn't make projections about its expected financial results for 2017, saying instead that it didn't have enough certainty about its future direction to provide solid guidance. Investors in First Solar took that as bad news, but SolarCity seemed to take bad news for its competitor as good news for its own prospects. The residential solar specialist still faces plenty of uphill battles against regulators and others in the industry, but many think SolarCity can still keep taking advantage of favorable tax incentives to entice homeowners to install residential systems and keep the money flowing.
Finally, Intercept Pharmaceuticals climbed 13% in the wake of favorable comments from an FDA staff review for its obeticholic acid for treating a liver disease known as primary biliary cirrhosis. The reviewers supported the use of obeticholic acid under certain circumstances, although it stopped short of making a general assessment of the drug's safety record, especially in patients that suffered from the disease more seriously. The next step for Intercept will be a formal advisory panel meeting later this week, and if that goes well, the road to final FDA approval will be much clearer for the drug and for Intercept's long-term prospects.