The Barron’s 400 Index (B400) clung to gains Thursday, rising 1.61 points and 0.36 percent to 451.21. U.S. stocks weakened toward the close, with investors reluctant to commit ahead of Friday’s key jobless report.
Year-to-date, the B400 is ahead 23.32 percent, a better performance than some other benchmark gauges.
A cautious stock market shrugged off a series of good economic news. A private payroll number showed a gain of 176,000 jobs in August, while jobless claims fell. The Institute for Supply Management reading for August rose more than expected.
Winners in the B400 Thursday included Spectrum Pharmaceuticals, Fastenal Co., LeapFrog Enterprises, IPG Photonics and Ensco.
Spectrum (SPPI) surged 9.83 percent to $8.10. The biotech firm launched sales of cancer treatment drug Marqilo under license from Telemira Pharmaceuticals.
Fastenal (FAST), a supplier of construction supplies, advanced 6.02 percent to $48.60. The company reported a 2.5 percent jump in August net sales and a higher customer count.
LeapFrog (LF) bounced back, gaining 6.02 percent to $8.98 after sliding in the previous session when an analyst made suggestions of potential problems with the educational company’s tablet product.
IPG Photonics (IPGP), a laser maker, rose 4.60 percent to $59.09 with an upgrade by Noble Financial from hold to buy.
Offshore energy services company Ensco (ESV) climbed 4.06 percent to $55.6 after announcing it accepted delivery of a new ultra-deepwater drill ship.
Top losers in the B400 Thursday included Pike Electric, Open Table, Proto Labs Inc., BofI Holding and Cambrex.
Pike (PIKE) slid 4.59 percent to $10.40. The energy solutions provider had its price target cut by FBR Capital Markets from $17 to $15 per share.
Online restaurant reservations firm Open Table (OPEN) fell 3.32 percent to $73.99 after Morgan Stanley lowers its rating to underweight from equal weight on concerns over lofty price gains in the stock.
Proto Labs Inc. (PRLB) declined 2.36 percent to $72.94, giving back gains after touching a record high in the previous session.
Internet bank BofI Holding fell 2.27 percent to $63.18 and Cambrex (CBM), a life sciences company, lost 2.07 percent to $12.76.
Other major stock market indexes eked out gains.
The Dow Jones Industrials rose 6 points to 14,937, the Nasdaq added 10 points to 3,659 and the S&P 500 tacked on 2 points to 1,655.