What Happened in the Stock Market Today

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Stocks rose on Wednesday, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI) broke through the 23,000 mark with a gain of over 100 points. The S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC) also closed at a record high.

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Today's stock market

Index Percentage Change Point Change
Dow 0.70% 160.16
S&P 500 0.07% 1.90

Financials led the market today, with the Financial Select Sector SPDR ETF (NYSEMKT: XLF) up 0.5%. Energy stocks slumped; the Energy Select Sector SPDR ETF (NYSEMKT: XLE) fell 0.7%.

As for individual stocks, IBM Corporation (NYSE: IBM) powered the gain in the Dow after reporting earnings, and Spectrum Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: SPPI) skyrocketed following positive results from a drug trial.

IBM delivers a welcome surprise

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Shares of tech giant IBM soared 8.9% after the company reported quarterly results that beat expectations for the first time in years. Revenue was $19.2 billion, down 1% from Q3 last year on a constant currency basis, and non-GAAP earnings per share came in at $3.30, flat year over year. Analysts were expecting non-GAAP EPS of $3.28 on sales of $18.6 billion. The company maintained its guidance for full-year non-GAAP EPS of $13.80 and GAAP EPS of $11.95. 

IBM breaks out results from what it calls its "strategic imperatives" --  analytics, cloud, security, mobile, and social products -- and those sales grew 11% over last year. Revenue from these sources now accounts for 45% of the company total over the past 12 months. Cloud revenue was particularly strong, increasing 20% to $4.1 billion. Even IBM's traditional mainframe business got a boost as adoption the company's new mainframe, with "pervasive encryption" to foil hackers, caused system sales to grow 10%.

"In the third quarter we achieved double-digit growth in our strategic imperatives, extended our enterprise cloud leadership, and expanded our cognitive solutions business," said CEO Ginni Rometty in the press release.

A report of flat growth would not be good news for a lot of companies, but the market was expecting yet another decline, so the results were a reversal from years of disappointments from the company. The apparent success of IBM's new initiatives has investors believing that a resumption of growth may be right around the corner, and the company's very low valuation may finally represent a bargain.

Spectrum Pharmaceuticals soars on drug trial results

Spectrum Pharmaceuticals, a developer of drugs for blood disorders and cancer, announced positive results from a phase 2 study of its lung cancer drug at a conference, causing the stock to skyrocket 36%.

Spectrum's drug candidate, poziotinib, is aimed at treating non-small-cell lung cancer with a particular genetic mutation called exon 20 insertion. This form of lung cancer is particularly deadly and resistant to treatment, with a response rate to the best drugs currently available below 10% and a median progression-free survival rate of about two months. Out of 11 subjects in the study, 8 responded to the treatment with shrinkage of their tumors. One patient that had metastasis to the central nervous system had that cancer shrink as well. 

"We are greatly encouraged with the clinical data emerging from poziotinib and plan to pursue its clinical development expeditiously and aggressively," said CEO Rajesh C. Shrotriya in the press release. "In the near future, we plan to discuss the regulatory pathway for poziotinib with the FDA."

Spectrum had given an advance view of the results of the trial in late September, and even with scant data to support any conclusions, the statement that three patients showed a response to the drug caused the stock to leap 23% in a day. Now, with further evidence of the efficacy of poziotinib, investors are concluding that Spectrum could have a huge winner on its hands.

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Jim Crumly has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.