What little economic data there was today certainly did its job to fuel investor optimism, but that still wasn’t enough for the S&P 500 to escape the growing turmoil in Egypt.
On the positive side, U.S. auto sales for both Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) and General Motors Company (NYSE:GM) came in higher than expected thanks to strong sales of pick-up trucks. Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) was the real standout once again with a 13.4% uptick in total unit sales thanks to a 24% rise in F-150 sales. By comparison, General Motors Company (NYSE:GM)’s unit gain of 6.5% was much tamer. Vehicles aren’t an inexpensive investment for consumers, so this goes to show how resilient the American consumer is in the face of higher payroll taxes and rising gas prices and signals that GDP growth may steadily expand.
However, as I mentioned, concerns regarding the possibility of a coup in Egypt continue to spook the markets — specifically the oil market. Any coup would lead to the possibility of oil export disruptions, which could have wildly negative effects on worldwide oil prices and subsequent growth.
When all was said and done, the S&P 500 dipped by a fractional 0.88 points (-0.05%) to finish the day at 1,614.08. In spite of the minor downdraft, three companies managed to easily buck the trend and zoom higher.
Topping the list was steel products provider United States Steel Corporation (NYSE:X), which jumped 8.3% after it and a consortium of domestic steel producers filed a petition against nine oil-producing countries for antidumping practices. United States Steel Corporation (NYSE:X) has struggled with sluggish global steel demand and weak pricing, so any type of subsidy or tariff advantage that foreign countries would have is certain to make life difficult for United States Steel Corporation (NYSE:X). However, I would suggest keeping your distance, even after today’s move as United States Steel Corporation (NYSE:X) boasts one of the most debt-heavy balance sheets of the group.
Genuine Parts Company (NYSE:GPC) turned in an impressive gain of 4.3% on the day, likely on the heels of that better-than-expected June auto sales report. Although Genuine Parts Company (NYSE:GPC) is a distributor of parts to the used car sector, the mere fact that people are purchasing new cars can mean that consumers are trading-in and selling previous models. That could create a huge demand for used car parts and push Genuine Parts Company (NYSE:GPC)’ share price even higher.
Finally, regional bank First Horizon National Corporation (NYSE:FHN), which has banking branches throughout Tennessee, added 4.2% just a day after paying shareholders a $0.05 quarterly dividend. Like Genuine Parts Company (NYSE:GPC), there is no company specific news driving First Horizon National Corporation (NYSE:FHN) higher, but the prospect for a higher net interest margin because of higher interest rates is certainly adding a boost to banks like First Horizon National Corporation (NYSE:FHN) that rely on traditional loan and deposit growth. But as my Foolish colleague John Maxfield recently pointed out, you may want to keep your expectations for First Horizon tempered in the interim.
The article Today’s 3 Best Stocks originally appeared on Fool.com and is written by Sean Williams.
Fool contributor Sean Williams has no material interest in any companies mentioned in this article.
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