The stock market posted solid gains on Wednesday, bouncing back from losses earlier in the week as investors reacted to the latest news from the Federal Reserve. A rise in energy prices helped set a positive tone for the market early in the day, and the central bank's minutes of its most recent monetary policy meeting made it clear that policymakers are aware of the crosscurrents in the economy and are trying to navigate as best they can in support of economic growth globally. Gains proved modest, with the Dow up about two-thirds of a percent and the S&P 500 rising 1%, but several stocks managed to earn larger gains. Among the best performers on Wednesday were Baker Hughes (NYSE:BHI), LGI Homes (NASDAQ:LGIH), and Acuity Brands (NYSE:AYI).
Baker Hughes rose 9% despite news that the U.S. Department of Justice will seek to stop the company from being acquired by industry peer Halliburton in a proposed $25 billion merger bid. The Justice Department believes that the combination of two oilfield services companies will concentrate too much of the market in the hands of top companies, which makes intuitive sense given Halliburton and Baker Hughes' positions as the No. 2 and No. 3 providers of services to energy companies. Higher prices and reduced innovation in the industry could result from the merger according to federal officials, but both stocks climbed after the companies issued a joint statement saying they would fight the antitrust lawsuit. In particular, Halliburton has told officials that it would divest enough of the assets of the combined company to address any anti-competitive concerns. The fight could take a while, but the response from Baker Hughes and Halliburton reassured investors that they won't give up quietly.
LGI Homes jumped 13% after the Texas-based homebuilder reported encouraging figures on home closings during the first quarter of 2016. The homebuilder, which covers a wide swath of the southern half of the U.S. as well as the states of Colorado and Washington, reported 367 home closings during March, up 23% from the 298 closings it had in March 2015. That brought LGI's closing figures for the full quarter up to 844, a 26% rise from last year's first-quarter total of 671. That pace was slightly slower than the 45% rise LGI posted in the fourth quarter of 2015, but the company has worked hard to maintain a breakneck growth pace and move into new geographic markets such as Colorado Springs, Colorado, Seattle, Nashville, Tennessee, and Raleigh, North Carolina. With expectations for earnings to grow by a third in 2016, LGI Homes has plenty of room to keep rising.
Finally, Acuity Brands gained 13%. The company reported record revenue and net income in its fiscal second-quarter report Wednesday morning, including a 26% rise in the top line and roughly 40% gains in earnings compared to the year-earlier quarter. The company highlighted impressive growth of LED-based lighting products, which climbed more than 40% from year-ago levels and made up more than half of Acuity Brands' total sales for the quarter. As CEO Vernon Nagel noted, "We believe the lighting and lighting-related industry as well as building automation systems will experience solid growth over the next decade, particularly as energy and environmental concerns come to the forefront." In addition, the need for digital lighting associated with the Internet of Things could be another growth driver for Acuity Brands, and investors see plenty of potential for the company to become even more successful in the future.