STOCKS SOAR: Here's what you need to know

After several days of muted gains, stocks posted an impressive rally. The Dow finished green for the first time in five days, and the S&P 500 had its biggest percentage gain in several weeks. All sectors of the S&P 500 closed positive.

First, the scoreboard:

  • Dow: 18,017.32, +253.28, (1.43%)
  • S&P 500: 2,106.76, +26.61, (1.28%)
  • Nasdaq: 5,082.73, +68.86, (1.37%)

And now, the top stories on Wednesday:

  1. Stocks opened higher but really gained momentum on news that Germany may be giving Greece the chance to come up with one economic reform that would attract bailout funds. Two people familiar with Germany’s affairs told Bloomberg that the country still wants Greece to come up with a comprehensive package including higher taxes and lower retirement benefits. But this latest news could mean Greece could get a temporary breather.
  2. Treasuries sold off yet again. The yield on the 10-year note rose to as high as 2.49%, the highest level since October 1, and the long 30-year bond yield jumped to 3.22%, the highest since last September. PIMCO’s Total Return Fund slashed its holdings of government bonds by two thirds in May, right before the sell off we’ve seen this month, according to Bloomberg. German bund yields also spiked; overnight, the benchmark 10-year yield crossed 1% for the first time since September.
  3. Crude oil prices sustained a rally from Tuesday. The Energy Information Administration reported that US commercial crude inventories fell for a fifth straight week last week, by 6.81 million barrels. Inventories remain at the highest level for this time of year in about 80 years, even as US production continues to soar. West Texas Intermediate crude oil rose to as high as $US61.81 per barrel, while Brent crude, the international benchmark, climbed to $US66.34 a barrel. The rally in oil supported energy stocks, according to Dave Lutz at Jones Trading.
  4. The Bureau of Labour Statistics released the latest data on employer costs for employee compensation, or ECEC. It showed that employer costs rose 4.9% year-over-year in March despite a general economic slowdown in Q1. In note to clients, UBS’ Samuel Coffin wrote that investors ignore this at their own peril, writing: “Private sector wages and salaries actually accelerated to 4.7%y/y from 4.6%. If Fed Chair Yellen is targeting 3-4% wage and salaries inflation as a signal of labour market repair, maybe she’s there.”
  5. Netflix exploded to a record high of $US692.79 a share. The stock jumped by more than 6% in trading, and has nearly doubled in value year-to-date. The rally comes after the company’s shareholder meeting on Tuesday in which it authorised an increase in shares outstanding. This makes a stock split likely, in which the stock gets less expensive as shareholders get multiple shares for every one they currently own.
  6. Etsy rallied more than 8%. In a regulatory filing made Monday, the company disclosed that hedge fund Tiger Global Management raised its holding of stock to 8.9% of all outstanding shares, from 7.3% as of mid-April. The rally still left the stock price around nearly half of the level it reached in trading on the day it went public in April — around $US30 per share. Etsy had priced its IPO at $US16.
  7. GoPro shares slumped 5% after Citi analysts wrote that the company’s point-of-view cameras may never catch mainstream appeal. In a note, Wednesday, the analysts slashed their forecast for product growth to 13.5 million units by 2018 from 16 million units. Following a survey, they noted that fewer people are planning to buy a GoPro camera than a year ago. Also, the drone market is threatening to slowdown the action camera market.
  8. General Motors turned down a merger with Fiat Chrysler. The FT reported that GM CEO Mary Barra disclosed this at the annual shareholders’ meeting in Detroit on Tuesday; she had received a letter from Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne, who wished to create the world’s top automobile company and cut costs. Barra reportedly turned down a previous offer.
  9. Egg prices are going nuts. Data released Wednesday from the US Department of Agriculture showed that the average price of a dozen eggs will rise to a record high this year, according to Reuters. That’s because of the worst bird flu outbreak that we’ve ever seen. The USDA raised its forecast for the price of a dozen Grade A large eggs in New York to $US1.60 to $US1.66 in 2015, and between $US1.73 to $US1.87 on average in the fourth quarter.

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