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Stocks Extend Winning Streak; S&P 500 Reclaims 1,600

Dan Berman
Hot Stock Minute

Stocks posted a second straight day of healthy gains. The DJIA, S&P 500 and Nasdaq all closed higher by 1% despite disappointing data. The Commerce Department now puts first quarter growth at a lackluster rate of 1.8% annually. That's down from the prior estimate of 2.4%, which is where analysts thought this third and final reading would sit. Meanwhile gold and silver sank again, setting new multi-year lows. The price drop in precious metals is being tied to fears the Fed will soon slow its bond-buying program.

Both General Mills (GIS) and Monsanto (MON) moved lower today after reporting quarterly results this morning. In the case of General Mills, the company matched estimates posting 53-cents a share. That was with a beat on revenue, which reached $4.4 billion. The company says it's being squeezed at both ends with higher costs for ingredients and budget-conscious shoppers. Still, it has managed to post sizable growth overseas, particularly through acquisitions.

As for seed-maker Monsanto, it topped estimates on earnings, reporting profits of $1.68 when expectations were for $1.60. Revenue, however missed estimates of $4.4 billion holding flat at $4.25 billion. The company says both sales and profit margins have been increasing, so it still expects at least 20% growth on earnings for the full year. Prior to today, shares of Monsanto have been up a modest 5% in 2013. But they had quite a rally late last fall and are up 30% over the past year.

Pandora (P) leaped another 8% today. Cowen has upgraded the company to outperform from market perform. It cites increased opportunity for ad revenue and predicts the effect of Apple's radio service won't hurt Pandora substantially. Today's climb adds to an 8.5% gain yesterday when Pandora said its online radio service is now available in more than 100 different cars and has over 2.5 million listeners.

From radio to books, Barnes & Noble (BKS) bounced back 5% today. The bookseller tumbled 17% yesterday after reporting results which shocked the street. Losses doubled from a year ago and sorely missed expectations. The company also revealed it will halt the manufacture of its color Nook e-reader, instead farming out production to a third party company. Today's rise came as speculation that a breakup of the company is now more likely.

Synaptics (SYNA) soared nearly 9% after raising its outlook for the current quarter. Synaptics makes the chips for touchscreens used by Samsung (SSNLF), Blackberry (BBRY) and HTC. It has upped its outlook citing stronger-than-expected sales of smartphones. Even prior to today's climb, shares were up 26% over the last year. They hit an all-time high near the end of April.