August 31, 2011 at 11:32 AM EDT
S&P 500 Tries to Leave August on a High Note
Joy Global, Tesoro each up more than 5% early Wednesday. Altera, CF Industries Holdings lose ground.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index was finishing its worst month since May with a powerful kick, gaining almost 12 points, or about 1%, to over 1,224. Investors reacted positively to reports on the labor and manufacturing sectors. For the past five days of trading, the S&P is higher by more than 4%. Gold and oil were down in the morning session. Today, advancing stocks outnumbered those declining by better than 4-to-1.

Leading the market higher by more than 5% was Joy Global (NASDAQ:JOYG), higher by around $4.25 to over $86.80. The farm and construction machinery company reported higher profits of 46%, which pleased Wall Street. JOY is up 13% for the week and 46% for the year.

Also up more than 5% was Tesoro Corp. (NYSE:TSO), gaining about $1.30 per share to around $24.80. The oil and gas company was upgraded by RBC Capital Markets on Wednesday, giving the company three upgrades since early July. Up more than 18% for the week, Tesora has more than doubled for the year.

Red Hat, Inc. (NYSE:RHT) picked up more than $1.70 in the morning session to over $39.50 a share, a jump of more than 4.5%. The world’s leading provider of open source solutions announced the expansion of customer involvement in Red Hat Enterprise Linux, its next major product release. Red Hat is up more than 8% for the week and 9% for the year.

Down by almost 2% was Altera (NASDAQ:ALTR), dropping more than 70 cents per share to under $36.70. Insider sales and a change in consensus analyst rating were taking the PLD manufacturer lower. Altera is up more than 3% for the week and 6% for the year. Altera received an “outperform” from Pacific Crest this morning. It already was upgraded twice in August, by Miller Tabak and Barclays Capital.

Also down about 2% was CF Industries Holdings (NYSE:CF), losing about $3.75 per share to around $186. The chemical company was downgraded in a consensus analyst report. There have been four positive analyst recommendations for CF Holdings in the past month. The most recent, on Tuesday, was the reiteration of a “strong buy” by Feltl and Company.

Also on its way down was semiconductor maker Xilinx (NASDAQ:XLNX), off about 0.6% to under $31.30, falling around 20 cents per share. Xilinc received a “market perform” rating from Pacific Crest this morning.

Jonathan Yates does not own any of the stocks mentioned in this article.

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