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Why EOG Resources Inc (EOG), Merck & Co., Inc. (MRK) and Rackspace Hosting, Inc. (RAX) Are 3 of Today’s Best Stocks

Stocks raced to record highs Friday after the U.S. Labor Department said employers added 255,000 new jobs last month, well ahead of economists’ expectations calling for 180,000 new jobs. The June jobs number was revised higher to 292,000 from 287,000.

Why EOG Resources Inc (EOG), Merck & Co., Inc. (MRK) and Rackspace Hosting, Inc. (RAX) Are 3 of Today's Best StocksOn the back of that news, the S&P 500 Index climbed 0.86% while the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1.04%. The Nasdaq Composite settled higher by 1.06%.

As stocks jumped following the jobs report, EOG Resources Inc (NYSE:EOG), Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) and Rackspace Hosting, Inc. (NYSE:RAX) were among Friday’s standouts.

EOG Resources Inc (EOG)

Shares of oil and natural gas exploration and production firm EOG Resources Inc jumped 7% on more than double the average daily volume after the company reported a narrower-than-expected second-quarter loss.

For the second quarter, Houston-based EOG lost 53 cents a share after posting a profit of 1 cent per share a year earlier. However, EOG boosted the number of wells it plans to frack this year to 350 from 270 while keeping its spending plan at $2.5 billion.

Improved efficiencies are allowing EOG to frack more wells while earning an “after-tax rate of return of more than 30 percent on its best new wells with the oil price where it is now, at $40 a barrel,” according to Reuters.

Merck & Co., Inc. (MRK)

Shares of pharmaceuticals maker Merck & Co., Inc. surged 10.4% on heavy volume after rival Bristol-Myers Squibb Co (NYSE:BMY) tumbled following news that BMY’s Opdivo failed a late-stage trial.

Opdivo is designed to help the body’s immune system fight tumors and MRK makes a rival product, Keytruda, but BMY’s Opdivo has been the bigger seller. BMY said its treatment did not do much to improve patients suffering from non-small-cell lung cancer. In June, MRK announced favorable result in a similar trial.

One of the key differences between the BMY treatment and the rival MRK product is that BMY has been aggressive in terms of patient selection whereas MRK has been conservative. That has helped BMY build a lead over MRK in this category, but it makes the former vulnerable to slack trial results, as was seen Friday.

Rackspace Hosting, Inc. (RAX)

Cloud computing provider Rackspace Hosting, Inc. soared 10.2% on more than five times the average daily volume on continued rumors that the company is a takeover target.

Private equity firm Apollo Global Management LLC (NYSE:APO) is reportedly offering $3.5 billion for RAX, Reuters reports, citing people familiar with the matter. RAX has been looking for a buyer since hiring Morgan Stanley to explore strategic alternatives for the company two years ago.

In a note out Friday, Wells Fargo said a takeover price of $32 per share of RAX is justifiable.

At the time of this writing, Todd Shriber did not own any of the aforementioned securities.

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