With Congress not in session and the president out of the country, stocks staged a big rally. The fiscal cliff is still the market's biggest focus, and the hope is that a deal gets done relatively soon. Ironically, the spike in stocks came after a bearish year-end call by Goldman's chief U.S. strategist David Kostin and an article in The Wall Street Journal discussing a difficult economic environment next year as businesses cut back on investment spending. That said, we continue to see opportunities in a number of areas, particularly in the MLP space.
The Stem Cell Stocks Index was the top performing tickerspy Index on the day, led by BioTime (BTX) with a 15% gain. The Chinese Advertising Stocks Index was the day's worst performing tickerspy Index, with VisionChina Media (VISN) down -5%.
Stocks soared on the day, led by a 63-point, or 2.2%, gain in the Nasdaq to 2,916. The Dow soared 208 points to 12,796, while the S&P jumped 27 points to 1,387. Oil climbed $2.36 to $89.28 a barrel, while gold rose $19.70 to $1,734.40 an ounce.
In economic news, the National Association of Realtors said existing home sales rose 2.1% in October to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.79 million from 4.69 million in September. The median home price rose to $178,600 last month, a gain of 11.1% from October 2011.
In earnings news, home improvement retailer Lowe's (LOW) said its third-quarter profit rose to $396 million, or 35 cents per share, from $225 million, or 18 cents a share, a year earlier. On an adjusted basis, the company earned 40 cents a share. Revenue rose to $12.07 billion from $11.85 billion. Analysts had expected a profit of 36 cents on revenue of $11.93 billion. Lowe's still expects a fiscal 2012 profit of $1.64 a share on revenue of $50.21 billion. Analysts were expecting EPS of $1.66 per share on revenue of $50.1 billion. Shares of Lowe's rose 6.1%.
Shares of Tyson Foods (TSN), the pork and poultry products maker, surged 11.0% after the company said its fiscal fourth-quarter profit soared 91% to $185 million, or 51 cents per share, from $97 million, or 26 cents per share, a year earlier. On an adjusted basis, Tyson earned 55 cents. Revenue fell to $8.37 billion from $8.40 billion. Analysts had expected a profit of 46 cents on revenue of $8.48 billion. The company said it expects full-year revenue of $35 billion, above the consensus estimate of $34.64 billion. Six pros counted Tyson among their top holdings at the end of Q3 and nearly 170 tickerspy members own the stock in their portfolios.
Diamond Foods (DMND) shares plunged -11.9% after the snack company received a downgrade after restating two years of financial results last week. California-based Diamond also reported a loss of -$53.4 million for the first three quarters of this year. Jefferies analyst Thilo Wrede lowered his price target on the stock to $10 today, well below the price where the shares currently reside.
Cisco Systems (CSCO), the largest maker of networking gear, said it will buy privately held Meraki for $1.2 billion to expand its offerings of cloud-computing services. The deal is expected to close in January. Shares of Cisco rose 1.8%. More than 180 pros held Cisco in their portfolios at the end of Q3 and more than 3,720 tickerspy members own the stock in their portfolios.
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Stocks fell 1 percent in a volatile session on Wednesday, with losses accelerating after Federal Reserve Chairman …