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Momentum names that made notable moves on Wednesday and could continue to do so into Thursday's session include alternative energy concern First Solar, Inc. (NASDAQ:FSLR), biopharmaceutical name MannKind Corporation (NASDAQ:MNKD), and mining company Cliffs Natural Resources Inc (NYSE:CLF). Here is a quick look at these stocks ahead of tomorrow's opening bell.
First Solar, Inc. (NASDAQ:FSLR)
First Solar jumped 3.9% today to close at $65.39, on news that the U.S. Department of Commerce is imposing preliminary anti-subsidy tariffs on Chinese solar equipment companies. What's more, yesterday, FSLR announced it will acquire Skytron Energy from AEG Power Solutions, in an effort to grow its power-plant control systems business. In response, speculators flooded FSLR's options pits, particularly on the call side of the fence, where volume spiked to three times the expected daily amount. The 10 most active options of the day were all calls that expire in the next six weeks, with the in-the-money weekly 6/6 65 strike leading the pack. Stepping back, long calls have outnumbered puts by a 3-to-1 margin during the past two weeks. The resulting 10-day International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) call/put volume ratio of 3.00 ranks in the top quartile of its 12-month range, indicating the recent rate of bullish betting over bearish is faster than usual, from a historical standpoint.
MannKind Corporation (NASDAQ:MNKD)
MannKind scored a fresh four-year high of $10.55 today, and closed the session with a 10.8% gain at $10.54, amid growing speculation the company may be a possible acquisition target, should its diabetes drug Afrezza be approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in mid-July. Meanwhile, in the options pits, speculators snatched up contracts at a rate of more than five times the daily norm, with call volume outnumbering put volume by a more than 2-to-1 margin. Some of today's call activity may have come at the hands of short sellers hedging against additional upside, as short interest currently accounts for 28.1% of the stock's available float. Looking forward, a continuation of MNKD's upward trajectory -- the equity has more than doubled in value so far in 2014 -- may cause a short-squeeze scenario, which could create more tailwinds for the shares.
Cliffs Natural Resources Inc (NYSE:CLF)
Cliffs bottomed at a five-year low of $14.50 today, and closed the session 2.3% below breakeven at $14.60. What's more, toward the end of the trading day, Moody's downwardly revised its rating on CLF to "negative." Meanwhile, the equity's options activity was heavier than usual today, with nearly three times as many puts as calls exchanged. This echoed a longer-term trend in CLF's options pits, as the stock's 10-day ISE/CBOE/PHLX put/call volume ratio of 2.69 ranks in the top 2% of its 12-month range. In other words, speculators have bought to open puts over calls at a near-annual-high clip during the last two weeks.