What Drove the Dow?
Jun 18th 2012 6:01PM
Updated Jun 18th 2012 6:06PM
Markets were mixed a day after Greece reelected the status quo, by giving the pro-austerity New Democracy party control over a coalition government. However, if the more radical Syriza party, with its insistence on tearing up the current agreement had won, today might have been a lot uglier. Now investors can refocus off near-term chaos and back onto the fundamental problems plaguing Greece and other struggling eurozone economies -- problems, ironically, that further austerity measures are not likely to solve.
In response, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI) declined 0.2%, while the S&P 500 was up 1% and the Nasdaq gained a relatively impressive 0.8%. Let's take a closer look at which of the major sectors drove the markets and a few stocks caught up in the action.
Gain / Loss %
Source: Yahoo! Finance.
These four sectors stood out for their performances, both good and bad. Health care continues its dominant run in 2012, up over 30% over the past six months, more than double the next closest sector. Excitement over next-gen hepatitis-C drugs has become even more frenzied around the two obesity-drug makers, VIVUS (NAS: VVUS) and Arena Pharmaceuticals (NAS: ARNA) . Arena closed up another 12% today, pushing its year-to-date gain into five-bagger territory. Shares will probably continue their momentum ahead of June 27, when the company should hear from the FDA regarding its drug lorcaserin. Just a few weeks later on July 17, VIVUS will find out whether Qnexa is approved, and how limited its label will be given the drug's side effects. Stay tuned: For the next couple of weeks, these two biotechs are the stars of the sector.
In technology, Groupon (Nadaq: GRPN) popped 10% after receiving an overweight designation from Morgan Stanley. Closing at $11.15, shares remain substantially below their $20 IPO price, but MS insists that the daily-deals website is developing a bit of a moat. The Wall Street firm went on to say that "Groupon clones have become less relevant" and there are "significant barriers to scale" even for well-capitalized competitors. The company is growing cash flow, and while not profitable, losses are shrinking. Groupon has not been without drama, but MS may be correct that the market has gotten too pessimistic on the company.
Finally, energy took a swan dive today, but natural gas-focused Ultra Petroleum (NYS: UPL) , with its 6% gain, managed to avoid the sell-off. Oil prices continue to decline, now under $83 per barrel, but nat gas saw a 7% pop to $2.66 per mcf. Ultra, despite its status as one of the lowest-cost producers, has been hit hard by the seemingly unending decline in value for its primary commodity. Ultra is surely hoping a sustained rebound is in play, as it is currently burning cash and has a pretty ugly balance sheet.
Invest for the long term
A long-term approach should consider what companies are poised to profit from the upcoming November elections here at home. Fortunately, The Motley Fool has you covered with our new special free report "These Stocks Could Skyrocket After the 2012 Presidential Election." Each candidate has his own plan for getting America back on track, and The Motley Fool will have you prepared to profit -- no matter who wins! Download your copy now, for free, and discover unique ways to profit from the election -- if you buy the right stocks before the next president's term begins.
At the time this article was published David Williamson holds no position in any company mentioned. Check out his holdings and a short bio. The Motley Fool owns shares of Ultra Petroleum. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Ultra Petroleum. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.
Copyright © 1995 - 2012 The Motley Fool, LLC. All rights reserved. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.