U.S. markets turned small gains into larger ones after the release of the September Fed minutes showed the Governors were concerned about a slowing of Global growth. The meeting was held before last Friday’s non-farm payrolls report, which came in quite a bit weaker than expected.
In economic news, the Labor Department reported that unemployment claims for the week ending October 3, fell by 13,000 to a seasonally adjusted 263,000. This was far less than the 274,000 the street was expecting, and was the lowest number since July.
In other news, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy announced he was stepping down from the race for House Speaker, which added to concerns over whether or not Congress will be able to negotiate a new budget.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 were both up more than 0.8%. Meanwhile, the Nasdaq was ahead by 0.4%. Sectors were all higher, with Materials and energy strong, continuing a trend seen over recent days. Crude oil, up more than 3%, also helped to boost the markets.
In the weeks ahead, earnings may dominate the news, but today there were many reasons why certain stocks beat the competition. EMC Corporation (NYSE:EMC), Lumber Liquidators Holdings Inc (NYSE:LL) and El Pollo LoCo Holdings Inc (NASDAQ:LOCO) were some with interesting news that became three of today’s best stocks.
EMC Corporation (EMC)
The speculation began from a note from James Kisner of Jefferies Group, who believes that such a merger could compete nicely against other large companies, such as Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN), Alphabet Inc (GOOG), or Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT).
Barron’s also reported today that Raymond James Financial is questioning whether Hewlett-Packard Company (NYSE:HPQ), which is planning on splitting into two separate companies next month, might also make a bid to merge with EMC.
Neither Dell nor EMC would offer any comment on the reports.
Lumber Liquidators Holdings Inc (LL)
LL stock was a big gainer today, after announcing it has now reached a settlement with the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the Department of Justice, for violations of the conservation law called the Lacey Act.
Under the terms of the agreement, Lumber Liquidators will have to pay a total in fines of $10 million, for violating both the Lacey Act and other Customs law. The fines are related to LL illegally importing Chinese-made wood flooring that contained carcinogenic levels of formaldehyde.
Prior to the 60 Minutes report which first highlighted the Lumber Liquidators story, LL stock traded near $70. In the months following the story, LL stock was trounced. LL stock gained 12% today, to close the day at $16.36.
Today’s announcement shuld help LL stock, but keep in mind there could still be class action lawsuits arising against Lumber Liquidators by consumers who had the Chinese-made flooring installed in their homes.
El Pollo LoCo Holdings Inc (LOCO)
LOCO stock went a little nuts today after SunTrust Robinson Humphrey analyst Jake Bartlett initiated coverage of El Pollo Loco, giving it a “buy” rating, and setting a price target of $17 per share. LOCO finished 11% higher.
Bartlett is impressed with LOCO’s unit growth story, and its emphasis on healthy and higher quality food. He believes that LOCO will have same-store sales growing at 3% in the fourth quarter of 2015 and 3.4% in 2016.
LOCO, which was a $30 stock in May, has since been sliced in half — and then some. Perhaps today’s news will help turn the stock around.
As of this writing, Ethan Roberts does not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.
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