Why Square, USG, and Overstock.com Jumped Today

Many investors believe that how the beginning of January goes for the stock market is a sign of how the entire year will be. If that's the case, then this week's moves augur well, as Friday completed what has been an extremely strong week for major benchmarks. The Dow climbed over 200 points to hit a record high, and the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite followed suit with gains of a similar percent. And that's despite some disappointment about the pace of job growth in the U.S., but bulls seem to believe that the economy is growing at a perfect speed to post long-term gains without overheating and creating problems. Certain companies also had high-profile success, and Square (NYSE: SQ), USG (NYSE: USG), and Overstock.com (NASDAQ: OSTK) were among the best performers on the day. Below, we'll look more closely at these stocks to tell you why they did so well.

Square keeps up the pace

Shares of Square jumped 8%, extending its momentum from what was an amazing performance from the payment processing company in 2017. Market expansion, new service offerings to customers, and even the prospect of tapping into the cryptocurrency craze have all lifted Square's reputation in investors' eyes recently, and even a brief pullback during December wasn't enough to sour most shareholders' views of the company. The need to move money isn't going away anytime soon, and investors seem to acknowledge the disruptive power that Square could have in breaking more deeply into a huge potential global market that its larger rivals currently dominate.

USG gets positive reviews

USG stock picked up almost 7% after the construction materials specialist got favorable comments from several stock analyst companies. Baird, JPMorgan, and Barclays all upgraded their ratings on USG, with Baird moving its rating from neutral to outperform and raising its price target by $10 to $45 per share. Baird believes that USG's valuation is low for the sector, and wallboard pricing could improve in the near future. JPMorgan cited similar catalysts in boosting its rating to overweight and setting a new $46-per-share price target, while Barclays expects tax reform to justify its move from equal weight to overweight. If anticipated infrastructure and construction spending initiatives from the federal government actually happen this year, then the favored Warren Buffett stock could get another boost.

Overstock.com goes coin crazy

Finally, shares of Overstock.com climbed over 8%. The internet retailer has become heavily engaged in the cryptocurrency craze, with its month-long initial coin offering from its tZERO subsidiary to strategically identified accredited investors expected to remain open until Jan. 18. Today's gains for the stock likely come amid a strong day for bitcoin, and a rising number of institutional investors have started to pile into the cryptocurrency market. Given the challenges that its retail business has faced, it's easy to understand why Overstock might prefer the initial publicity from its crypto-related moves. Nevertheless, the company will still have to demonstrate to investors that its new business focus can pay off in the long run in order to justify Overstock shares tripling in 2017.

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Dan Caplinger has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of Square. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.