Dow Jones Industrial Average Pares Losses; Nasdaq Turns Higher Amid Tech Rally

Buy Calls On This Gold Stock

Mar 22, 2017 at 12:04 PM
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While the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) has pared its early losses, stocks are still struggling to make a meaningful move higher ahead of tomorrow's expected House vote on an Obamacare replacement bill. Plus, oil prices continue to suffer, after domestic crude inventories rose more than expected last week, hitting a record high. May-dated crude futures were last seen trading near four-month lows, down 1.2% at $47.68 per barrel. Still, strong gains from tech stocks are keeping the S&P 500 Index (SPX) and Nasdaq Composite (COMP) above water. 

Continue reading for more on today's market -- and don't miss:

  • 2 retail stocks making huge moves. 
  • Why it may be time to buy call options on this gold stock
  • Plus, more unusual options activity on the housing market; a biotech penny stock that's been on a tear; and another huge retail loser. 

midday market stats march 22

Among the names seeing accelerated options trading today is the iShares U.S. Home Construction ETF (ITB), as call traders continue to place ambitious bets. Specifically, Trade-Alert notes a purchase of 24,308 January 2018 38-strike calls for 60 cents each, meaning this speculator is betting nearly $1.5 million ($0.60 * 100 shares per contract * number of contracts) on the exchange-traded fund (ETF) topping the $38 mark in the months ahead. This same contract saw almost identical activity last week from an options trader, so clearly someone out there has high hopes for the housing sector. ITB was last seen down 1.1% at $31.31, after existing home sales in February dropped 3.7%. 

One stock making gains on the Nasdaq today is antibody specialist XOMA Corp (NASDAQ:XOMA), after the company repaid in full its $6.5 million loan with Hercules Technology Growth Capital. XOMA stock is now up over 38% year-to-date to trade at $5.80, including an 8.2% gain today. What's more, the shares are on pace for a third straight close above the 20-week moving average, a trendline that has been capping most upside moves for over a year. 

xoma stock news

One stock that's not so lucky on the Nasdaq is Ann Taylor parent Ascena Retail Group Inc (NASDAQ:ASNA), with the shares down 7.5% at $3.56, earlier touching another eight-year low of $3.54. KeyBanc last night downgraded the shares to "sector weight" from "overweight," which isn't surprising, since ASNA stock has lost more than two-thirds of its value in the past 12 months. 

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