U.S. markets opened lower this morning after the July employment report from the Labor Department did not meet expectations, but was strong enough to increase the chances for a September rate hike from the Fed.
Job gains of 215,000 were below expectations of 223,000, and the unemployment rate remained the same from the previous month at 5.3%.
In addition, oil was once again declining, with crude oil reaching $43.87 a barrel intra-day.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average, S&P 500, and Nasdaq all finished down 0.2%. Among sectors, only utilities were higher today, and energy and basic materials stocks were quite weak.
Three stocks that did outperform their benchmarks were Nvidia Corporation (NASDAQ:NVDA), Barrick Gold Corporation (NYSE:ABX) and Aquinox Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:AQXP), which ended as some of the best performers in the stock market today.
NVDA stock soared 12% higher after reporting adjusted second quarter earnings of 34 cents a share late Thursday afternoon, well ahead of the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 11 cents a share. In addition, revenue of $1.15 billion was up 4.5% year-over-year, and also surpassed the street’s estimate of $1.01 billion.
NVDA also received an analyst upgrade from Krishna Shankar of Roth Capital Partners, raising his rating from Neutral to Buy. Shankar said its good that NVDA has gotten away from its sole dependence on making chips for PC’s, and is now branching out into making chips for driverless cars.
Barrick Gold (ABX)
ABX stock got a big lift today from Farooq Hamed of Barclays PLC (ADR) (NYSE:BCS), which upgraded the gold miner from “underweight” to “equal weight” this morning. However, Hamed also lowered his price target from $11 to $10.
The upgrade came on the heels of ABX’s announcement that it will sell assets from $500 to $700 million, in order to repay its debt. In its upgrade, Barclays noted that by paying down debt, there was now a decreased risk, which along with its recent price decline makes ABX stock more compelling to own.
After reporting earnings on Wednesday which were in line with estimates, ABX also announced a cut to its quarterly dividend. While this is often a negative for a stock, Hamed believes that it will help the company longer term, which will eventually translate into a higher stock price.
ABX stock was up over 6% in the morning, but pulled back to finish more than 2% higher on the day.
Aquinox Pharmaceuticals (AQXP)
Today’s biggest winner, Vancouver, BC based AQXP stormed 482% higher after announcing it has obtained positive results from secondary endpoints in its Phase 2 LEADERSHIP trial, using AQX-1125 for patients with bladder pain syndrome/interstitial cystitits (BPS/IC).
Late on Thursday, AQXP also provided a general business update and results for second quarter operations. AQXP had a loss of $4.8 million, better than the $5.4 million loss reported in the second quarter of 2014.
AQXP closed at $1.79 on Thursday, and finished today at $10.54.
As of this writing, Ethan Roberts does not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.