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
Weekly Price Change
Month-to-Date Price Change
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
Weekly Price Change
Dean Foods (NYS: DF)
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.
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