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Cliffs Natural Resources Inc (CLF), Bank of America Corp (BAC), Tesoro Corporation (TSO): Today’s Three Best Stocks

Cliffs Natural Resources Inc (NYSE:CLF)I know you don’t often hear this, but it was a relatively quiet day with regard to economic data and on the earnings front.

Leading the broad-based S&P 500 higher was a continuation move for Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), which has rallied steadily since it announced a 500% increase to its share repurchase program and increased its dividend by 15%. Investors have been super-critical of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s supposed “lack of innovation” since the debut of the iPad, yet the company continues to deliver record sales volumes and practically unmatched cash generation.

For the day, the S&P 500 edged higher by 3.08 points (0.19%) to close at 1,617.50, another all-time high. Although today’s move was tame compared with some of the moves we’ve witnessed recently, three companies vastly outperformed to the upside.

Iron ore miner Cliffs Natural Resources Inc (NYSE:CLF) topped the list with a 5.5% gain after an analyst at FBR Capital upgraded the company to “outperform” from “market perform.” After a meeting with management, analyst Mitesh Thakkar feels confident that Cliffs Natural Resources Inc (NYSE:CLF) could sell assets to raise capital and can mitigate its cost exposure enough to make it a good rebound candidate. As long as China keeps building, iron ore demand should remain strong, which should ultimately buoy prices and profits. This is certainly a name I’d keep a close eye on.

Large money center bank, and personal portfolio holding, Bank of America Corp (NYSE:BAC) tacked on 5.2% after it and mortgage insurer MBIA Inc. (NYSE:MBI) agreed to a $1.7 billion settlement stemming from supposedly misleading loans issued by Bank of America Corp (NYSE:BAC) subsidiary Countrywide Financial and insured by MBIA Inc. (NYSE:MBI) during the financial crisis. Under the terms of the agreement, Bank of America Corp (NYSE:BAC) will fork over $1.6 billion in cash to MBIA Inc. (NYSE:MBI) and about $100 million in MBIA bonds the bank currently owns. This settlement will keep MBIA solvent and removes more uncertainty from Bank of America’s long list of potential settlements.

Finally, refiner Tesoro Corporation (NYSE:TSO) advanced 4.1% just a few days after reporting its first-quarter results and following a Barron’s article over the weekend that painted Tesoro Corporation (NYSE:TSO) as one of the most attractive stocks in the refining sector. Tesoro Corporation (NYSE:TSO)’s outperformance is pretty easy to figure out, given that refining margins are up by double digits and tight cost controls saw expenses fall by 2% during the first quarter. As long as oil prices remain range-bound, refiners like Tesoro Corporation (NYSE:TSO) are likely to benefit.

The article Today’s 3 Best Stocks originally appeared on Fool.com and is written by Sean Williams.

Fool contributor Sean Williams owns shares of Bank of America, but has no material interest in any other companies mentioned in this article. You can follow him on CAPS under the screen name TMFUltraLong, track every pick he makes under the screen name TrackUltraLong, and check him out on Twitter, where he goes by the handle @TMFUltraLong.The Motley Fool owns shares of, and recommends, Apple. It also recommends Bank of America.

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