The Week's Top Stock Gainers

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The gains weren't huge this week, but with the global economy facing trouble at every turn, investors are no doubt grateful to see the market in the black at all. The situation in Europe remained front and center, keeping investors on their toes throughout the week. Standard & Poor's sounded a concerning note on Monday when it placed the credit ratings of 15 European Union countries on review, threatening a cut of one to two notches. On Friday, though, the market cheered an agreement among EU countries to draft a new treaty that would bring deeper economic integration and potentially help head off a similar debt-fueled crisis in the future.

Thanks to the jump on Friday, the S&P 500 managed a gain of nearly 1% for the week while the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI) edged up 1.4%. Though no sector knocked the cover off the ball this week, financials led the market on its way up and that group was joined by information technology stocks and industrials.

Top 3 Performing Sectors

S&P SectorWeekly Price ChangeMonth-to-Date Price Change
Financials1.7%2%
Information Technology1.4%1.9%
Industrials1%0.7%

Source: S&P Capital IQ. Weekly price change is Dec. 2-Dec. 9. Monthly price change is Nov. 30-Dec. 9.

Jumping in from outside of the top three sectors, Gannett (NYS: GCI) nabbed the distinction of the top-performing S&P 500 stock this week. The publisher of USA Today joined fellow newspaper publisher McClatchy (NYS: MNI) in telling investors that it has seen improving trends in advertising. Gannett's stock was also helped along by an upgrade from Lazard, which boosted the stock from "neutral" to "buy."

Monster Worldwide (NYS: MWW) , meanwhile, represented the tech sector well, tacking on 8.6% during the week. Early in the week, MarketWatch's Mark Hulbert included Monster on a list of stocks worth buying as fund managers engage in year-end "window dressing." Later in the week, the always-frenetic Jim Cramer gave the stock a thumbs-up during his "Lightning Round."

Top 3 Performing S&P 500 Companies

CompanyWeekly Price Change
Gannett12.0%
Monster Worldwide8.6%
Dean Foods (NYS: DF) 7.6%

Source: S&P Capital IQ. Weekly price change is Dec. 2-Dec. 9.

Also part of the top 10 S&P 500 stocks for the week were Netflix (NAS: NFLX) and Tenet Healthcare (NYS: THC) . Coming off a rough week last week, and really a very rough year in general, Netflix's move may have been just a simple stock market bounce. However, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings may have clawed back just a bit of his, and Netflix's, reputation during the week when he gave a visionary talk at UBS' media conference.

Meanwhile, Tenet hopped higher after Goldman Sachs said that investors had overreacted to concerns that Medicare may not pay for hospital stays for heart and orthopedic procedures in certain states.

That's it for this week's top performers recap. If you're looking for some ideas for strong outperformers in the year ahead, The Motley Fool has created a brand new free report titled "The Motley Fool's Top Stock for 2012." In it, my fellow Fools reveal a top pick that's poised for explosive growth ahead. Get instant access by clicking here -- it's free.

At the time this article was published The Motley Fool owns shares of Dean Foods. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of The Goldman Sachs Group and Netflix. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.Fool contributor Matt Koppenheffer does not have a financial interest in any of the companies mentioned. You can check out what Matt is keeping an eye on by visiting his CAPS portfolio, or you can follow Matt on Twitter @KoppTheFool or Facebook. The Fool's disclosure policy prefers dividends over a sharp stick in the eye. 

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