2 Stocks That Soared Friday Despite a Sagging Market

The stock market continued to post declines on Friday, as short-term traders seemed unwilling to go into the weekend without protection against the extremely volatile geopolitical and macroeconomic climate right now. Losses for the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI) and S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC) weren't all that big, but the Nasdaq Composite (NASDAQINDEX: ^IXIC) suffered bigger declines.



Some stocks managed to move sharply higher despite the pressure on the market overall. Among top performers in the large-cap stock space were Occidental Petroleum (NYSE: OXY) and Kroger (NYSE: KR), and below, we'll look more closely at the factors that helped move those shares upward on Friday.

Occidental benefits from higher oil prices

Shares of Occidental Petroleum rocketed higher on Friday, finishing the day up nearly 18% from where it closed Thursday. The move sent the oil stock back to levels it hadn't seen in nearly three years.

The obvious catalyst for the upward move in Occidental's stock was a renewed push higher in crude oil prices. West Texas Intermediate crude oil closed at $115 per barrel, hitting levels not seen in the U.S. market since 2008. Some analysts expect that oil prices could continue to move upward toward $150 in the short run, especially if the war between Ukraine and Russia escalates and leads to measures that could prevent or limit the release of Russian-produced oil and energy products on global markets.

Yet Occidental also seemed to be the focus of some short-term trading groups that singled out the oil exploration and production company. Occidental's peers were also higher, but gains of 8% for Chesapeake Energy (NASDAQ: CHK) and Oasis Petroleum (NYSE: OAS) and 6% for drilling services specialist Baker Hughes (NASDAQ: BKR) showed that Occidental seemed to be getting special attention from shareholders.

Investors are excited that high oil prices might help more leveraged companies like Occidental reduce their debt and get in healthier financial condition. It's unclear how long crude might remain at elevated levels, but for now, shareholders are optimistic about the positive effect of tight energy markets on the company's prospects.

Kroger keeps looking tastier

Meanwhile, shares of Kroger added to recent gains. The stock's rise of 7% on Friday followed a 12% gain on Thursday.

Thursday's gains stemmed largely from the grocery store chain's most recent quarterly financial report. Kroger's revenue was up 7.5% on a 4% rise in comparable sales, and adjusted earnings rose 12% year over year even after a strong performance in the previous year's period as well.

On Friday, stock analysts added to Kroger's upward momentum. At least three Wall Street analyst companies boosted their price targets on Kroger's stock, with BMO Capital's $16 boost to $57 per share being the biggest upgrade.

To be clear, Kroger still faces some major challenges. Wage pressures are hitting the grocery store operator especially hard, and continued tightness in labor markets means that Kroger will likely struggle to get the workers it needs, at least in the short run. However, as investors look increasingly defensive in their stance with their portfolios, Kroger's reliable business in providing necessities to consumers should hold up better than providers of more discretionary items.

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